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Paraguay football tour cancelled

Scotland's under-16 football squad has been devastated by the late cancellation of its trip to play in the Paraguay international tournament next month. The event, which had attracted the world's top football nations, has been called off "due to the economic situation in South America and throughout the world".

The Scottish Schools Football Association received the news from Paraguay and has been left stunned. The players were due to leave on March 22 and the SSFA was just waiting to hear which section Scotland would be in.

"It's a great pity for the players and it's come as a shock when you consider the magnitude of the tournament," admits John Watson, general secretary of the SSFA. "All of the top countries were due to attend - Germany, Spain, Japan, Korea, you name it - and it's amazing they can call it off at this notice."

It was the most ambitious trip ever planned by the association and the tournament organisers had promised to pay all expenses. The invitation was passed on to the SSFA by the Scottish Football Association and it would have been a unique chance for the schoolboys to play against professional squads from all over the world.

Scotland's squad had been selected and it is understood some of the players and officials had had their inoculations in preparation.

It is hoped the SSFA will be able to arrange at least one international game as an alternative during the Easter break: Germany and the Netherlands will be approached.

The players who were due to go to Paraguay will attend the Ballymena international tournament in Northern Ireland from May 1-7. The tournament was called off last year due to the foot-and-mouth disease crisis.

The Scottish squad includes two players who are based at Leeds United's soccer academy, Martin Woods and Sean McDaid, and one, Kevin McKinlay, at Chelsea's. The other members are: S Abbot (Monifeith HS), S Anderson (Banff Acad), S Campbell (Auchmuty HS), L Craig (Berwickshire HS), R Davidson (Stonelaw HS), A Dick, S Mackison (both Stirling HS), S Linton (Balwearie HS), E McLean (James Hamilton HS), A Neilson (Dunblane HS), C Reidford (Eastbank Acad), C Sives, D Vita (both Firrhill HS), G Watson (Lochend HS), P Weaver (St Andrew's Acad).

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