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Salvador Cabanas, right, was Paraguay's top scorer in the qualifiers with six goals, and scored crucial goals in big wins over Brazil and Chile. ((PABLO BURGOS/AFP/Getty Images))

Doctors trying to save the life of soccer player Salvador Cabanas say they have been able to control swelling around the brain area as the Paraguayan tries to recover from being shot in the head at close range in a Mexico City bar.

Dr. Enrique Martinez told reporters late Wednesday that Cabanas's condition had stabilized, an improvement over his condition earlier in the day when the swelling increased around the brain after doctors tried to reduce his sedation level.

"Salvador's situation has remained stable, the swelling has been controlled within a normal range and we have not had any unsatisfactory change," Martinez said. "On the contrary, the stability gives us some peace of mind and keeping the swelling down assures us he is getting good circulation in the brain area."

Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Angel Mancera identified a main suspect Tuesday — Jose J. Balderas Garza — from surveillance videos. Police have not reported detaining him.

Martinez said Cabanas responded favourably to the voices of his mother and wife when the sedation level was lowered. However, "he has not moved out of the critical stage and we're not going to lower the sedation now that we are seeing an increase in pressure around the brain area," Martinez said.

The 29-year-old Cabanas was shot at point-blank range just before dawn Monday in the bathroom of a bar in a well-off Mexico City district.

Police said the shooting may have been linked to a dispute that Cabanas' brother-in-law might have been having with a Cuban woman and the suspect, Balderas Garza. Cabanas was at the bar with his wife and brother-in-law

Hours after the shooting, surgeons attempted to remove a bullet lodged in Cabanas' skull but decided the operation was too risky.

Cabanas has played in Mexico since 2003, scoring 125 goals in 218 matches. He also has scored 10 for the Paraguay national team, which he had been expected to lead when the World Cup opens in June in South Africa.

Earlier this month he attracted the attention of Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, who expressed interest in bringing Cabanas to the English Premier League club. Reports suggested the deal didn't go through because Club America's price was too high.