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Gunned-down World Cup star Cabanas fights for life

27 January 2010 19:25

MEXICO (AFP) - Paraguay World Cup star Salvador Cabanas, who was shot in the head in the toilet of a trendy Mexico City bar, was still fighting for his life on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old, who plays his club football with Club America of the Mexican league, remains in a serious condition following Monday's incident, which saw his attacker flee the scene.

"His condition remains serious," said Dr Ernesto Martinez, the chief of surgeons at the hospital where the player, who is under sedation, underwent emergency surgery.

Martinez added that Cabanas, the 2007 South American footballer of the year, had been fed and had already received some physical therapy.

But the bullet has yet to be removed from the player's skull, with doctors wary of aggravating the damage.

Paraguay will face defending champions Italy, Slovakia and New Zealand in the opening round of the World Cup, which begins on June 11 in South Africa.

While Cabanas has played in Mexico since 2003, Sunderland of the English Premier League had shown interest in obtaining him earlier this month.

He has scored 125 goals in 218 games in Mexico and 10 goals in 44 international appearances.

Even if he recovers from the shooting, he has little chance of playing in the World Cup, said Carlos Codas, the former head of the Paraguayan neurological society.

The shooting brought back grim memories of the death of Colombia footballer Andres Escobar, who was shot dead outside a bar in Medellin following the 1994 World Cup in the USA.

Escobar had scored an own goal in a 2-1 defeat to the hosts that eliminated his country from the tournament and many believed his death was a contract killing, ordered by powerful drug lords who had lost millions of gambling dollars as a result of Colombia's exit.

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