Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Best of 2006 (by John)

Hi There Everyone,

Let me introduce myself, I’m John from Malaysia and I'm a huge Argentina supporter. My support and love for Argentina goes all the way back to 1986 (I was only 6 years old then) when the World Cup was held in Mexico. It was then when my uncle told me to sit down and watch this amazing player that he wanted to introduce to me. That player was non-other than Diego MARADONA and the rest as you can see is all history.

Ever since those early days I always had this feeling being attached to Argentina, not just in terms of football but also the people and their culture as well, though throughout my whole life I grew up in Malaysia.

This year, it is exactly 20 years since I fell in love with them (also the last time we lifted the Cup Of Life) and between these years we had some good times and some bad times as well. We did win Copa America’s and gold in the Olympics, and of course how can we forget our nightmare in 2002. Despite of all this, there is no way that I’m going to turn my back on my beloved Albicelestes and never will.

Like some of you out there I too had some personal ups and downs but when it comes to watching Argentina play, I sometimes tend forget everything that goes around me because at that moment there is nothing more beautiful then that. In fact the disappointment 2002 made my feelings grew even stronger than ever and it was then that I started to follow Argentines in other sports.

I will never forget those great moments such as Gaston GAUDIO lifting the Roland Garros trophy, Martin GRAMATICA winning the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bays Buccaneers and of course our Tall Guys triumph in Athens 2004. In fact I did skip a couple days of work (I hope my boss is not reading this …hahaha) back in 2003, just to see Manu GINOBILI in action for San Antonio Spurs during the NBA Finals against New Jersey Nets.

Now, it gives me great pleasure to reveal to all of you on the best of Argentina for 2006. As you all know this year has been a real sporting extravaganza starting with the Winter Olympics in Turin right up to Asian Games in Doha and between of course is the biggest of them all, the World Cup in Germany. So I figured, why don't we take look on how Argentina fared in these various events and come up with a Top 10, to see who is the best. The following list is my personal choice from 10 to 1 on the best of Argentina in 2006.

10. Volleyball (Men)

There was a close battle between these guys and our men’s hockey team. But in the end I guess the fact that our volley boys, led by Marcos MILINKOVIC who managed to progress further despite suffering defeats in opening two games does mean something. Like our men’s hockey team, it is unlikely that we’ll be world beaters in this game but hey isn’t that what people use to say about our basketball team 10 years ago?

9. Beach Soccer Team

Once again, here we have a team that no one had any expectation on them but they managed to defy all the odds. Like their futsal counterparts it is great to know the improvement that our beach boys have made. After topping our group sensationally, it is unfortunate that we had to meet our bogey team Uruguay once again. If not, who knows how far we would’ve gone? The only thing I wished this time that we could have a better finish. I’m not talking about the result here. What I meant instead was those incidents after the game.

8. Basketball (Women)

Vamos the Tall Ladies!!! They surprised everyone in their Preliminary round matches after pushing Brazil to the limit, upsetting Spain and defeating South Korea and went on to finish 9th overall standings. There seems to be a sign of great things to come for them. What I’m looking forward right now is to see the likes of Natalia Romina RIOS and Gisela Veronica VEGA making a move to the WNBA. Perhaps after that, their fortune might change just like the men’s team.

7. Golf

For once it was not the Tiger but an Angel that got my attention to this sports. Angel CABRERA together with Andres ROMERO were leading by 3 strokes going into the 2nd day of the recent World Cup of Golf in Barbados. At one point I was thinking this could be the moment. Nope. Going into the 3rd and 4th day, probably due to some bad luck, we ended up in fifth. Better luck next time.

6. Hockey (Women)

The most successful women’s team in Argentina and so guys, please take a back seat. Despite failing to defend the title that we won 4 years ago, Los Leonas manage to finish third behind a much better Netherlands and Australia. However we did not left empty handed as Carla REBECCHI won the Young Player of the Tournament Award. And in Luciana “La Maga” AYMAR, we have probably the best women to be compared to someone by the name of Diego MARADONA.

5. Football (Men)

Surprise? Shocked? Well not me but I’m prepared to accept any criticism from you guys for doing this to our beloved Albicelestes and place them in this ranking's 5th place. Yes I do agree with some of you that we were the best team in the quarterfinals and we did not deserve to go out early. Yes I do agree that we were good enough to win the World Cup. Yes I do agree that our recent bad results were just friendly internationals. But as of 2006, the football players will just have to settle at number five.

4. Basketball (Men)

No doubt we came close to beat Spain in the semis and if we did, I’m sure the Tall Guys were good enough to go all the way. But I must admit we lost to a better team. However our performance throughout tournament has ensured that we are a top basketball team in the world and our achievement for the past 4 years speaks for itself. Can’t wait for Beijing 2008 but in the meantime good luck to Manu, Chapu, Fabricio, Delfino and Walter. Give us another NBA Championship ring.

3. Tennis

I knew from the beginning itself that we had a mountain to climb against Russia. Playing on their own turf was bad enough but worst was these guys had to play against them on hard court. What surprises me was the way they played despite of all the other factors. They fought hard and were like warriors who battled until the very end and for this how can I be disappointed with our Racket Kings. NALBANDIAN & Co. we are proud of you.

2. Rugby

Once again I had tough time deciding between these guys and our tennis team. However I felt in the end, that Los Pumas had much more edge from what they’ve achieve this year. Well let see, we beat Northern Hemisphere Six Nation teams such as Wales (twice if I’m not mistaken), Italy and of course our historic win over England at Twickenham. Furthermore we lost to the All Blacks and France by minimal margin. And with results like this, Captain PICHOT and his team will go into next years Rugby World Cup full of confidence. But for now, bring on the Six Nation and let Argentina play there!!!!

1. Blind Futsal Team

Who would have thought of this? It was the same time when I receive the news that we lost the Davis Cup final, I was just asking myself when are we going to be World Champions? When is the day that we would have the opportunity to jump with joy and celebrate?

Suddenly on CNN news that came out stated that Argentina have just won the IBSA (International Blind Sports Association) Futsal World Championship. After all the disappointment that we went through, it was The Bats, as they are known, that brought us the joy that we were looking for. It was a fierce contested final in which we beat non other than Brazil by 1-0 (no doubt we won but in the name of sportsmanship there are no losers in this final). The final, which was played in the CENARD center in front of a 2,500 spectators which also includes household names from Argentina sporting and political personalities, not to mention an impressive number of reporters from the national and international media. Silvio VELO who wears the No.5 jersey, widely regarded as the best player in the world game, scored the winning goal. He eluded two defenders before chipping over the onrushing FABIO in the Brazilian goal to spark wild celebrations among the home crowd.

"I couldn't ask for any more," said a jubilant VELO afterwards. "We were playing in front of our own fans, we won and I got the winning goal. But as I always say, what matters most is that Argentina won. It was also important for us to retain our title and not disappoint the supporters and attending media who came to watch us."

Gonzalo VILARINO, the team’s coach said “What we've all experienced throughout this tournament, and especially on the final day, is totally unprecedented. Never before has a tournament for the blind been played out in such a spectacular setting. Why, even the stadium felt small! These lads deserved to win like this, and I think that they've carved out a niche for themselves in society. There's no doubt that they'll get greater and greater recognition for their efforts."

Yes its true, these guys deserves the recognition. However, it is very unfortunate that they will never get the chance to see how the likes of DIEGO, KUN or MESSI dazzling on the pitch. But that is the beauty because as these guys stand right on top of the world of their own, it is us and the rest that I’ve mentioned from No.10 – 2 will have to take a back seat, LOOK and BOW down to them. I personally hope that their triumph will serve as a great example for the rest.

So to Silvio VELO & Co, you guys are my best team of 2006. On behalf of all the Albicelestes supporters worldwide, WE SALUTE YOU!!! VAMOS MURCIELAGOS!!!

So there you have it, my personal choice on the Best of Argentina for 2006. I’m not sure whether the rest of you are going to agree with me on this, but I would really love to hear your comments.

Frankly speaking, this blog is definitely the best discovery for me in 2006 as finally me and my buddies here in Malaysia, feel that we are not alone. Through this blog we have been able to discuss on various types of issues. No doubt that at times we had our differences but in the end we were all passionate about the same thing.

For this Seba, special thanks goes to you for kick-starting this blog. Thanks again for the opportunity to write this article as well. It is truly majestic in your own words that we are “ONE TEAM, MANY NATION”. And most important of all through this blog, I had the honour of meeting new friends such as Subh, Ingi, Linda, Argentinafan, Johnny, Joey (where are you?), Andaman and everyone else (Sorry in case I forgot anyone, there were too many names to remember). And last but not least…



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Estudiantes CAMPEON!

I hate this! I hate when I write a full report and then this Blogger thing just erase everything I had written and I can never get it back! Just when I was hitting CTRL+C to copy all the text just in case I lose it!


There is no way I'll get it back and no way I can write it again being 2:10 AM here in Doha.

I'm trying to keep the calm and don't write bad words but I really need to!!!!!!!!

Anyway...I will just say now that Estudiantes won 2-1 after trailing from the 3rd minute and they deserve to be champions.


I'm sorry...too late now.

Anybody saw the game?

Boca Juniors v Estudiantes: La Gran Final

Great expectation for the match between Boca Juniors and Estudiantes de La Plata.

The underdogs (Estudiantes) now look pretty much the favourites considering their outstanding form and will to win things and Boca's terrible form in the last couple of matches.

But Boca is full of players with a lot of experience playing big finals and they will look for them to lead them to victory and get the third straight league title.

Diego SIMEONE is just starting his managerial career and he had a rough start while he was at Racing Club. I think it was more due to the bad conditions in which he had to work at Racing rather than his ability. Plus...Estudiantes have a far better squad than Racing and the addition of Juan Sebastian VERON gave them the extra quality they needed.

After losing in the last Copa Libertadores on penalties against Sao Paulo in Brazil, EL CHOLO have built a team with a strong personality that resembles him.

When the two teams met in the 5th week of the season, Boca defeated Estudiantes with goals from the usual suspects: Martin PALERMO and Rodrigo PALACIO.

Estudiantes were going through a rough run in the league and didn't record a win in four games. But from week 8 on, they won the amazing 10 straight matches (including a big 7-0 thrashing of local rivals Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata).

That run was stopped in the week before the last and have not been for that last-minute strike by Argentinos Juniors' Choy GONZALEZ, they would have been champions last week when they defeated Arsenal de Sarandi while Boca were losing their second straight game (at home against Lanus. )

Estudiantes will be missing striker Jose Luis CALDERON (suspended) and the match will kick-off at 17:20 Buenos Aires (20:20 London) at Velez Sarsfield's Jose Amalfitani Stadium.

Hopefully I'll get some coverage on Dubai Sports at 23:20 Doha time! I will be watching!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Por Dios PARDEW is gone!

I can't help but to feel a little sad about it because I think he is a good man and a hard-working professional. But I think Alan PARDEW being sacked by West Ham United is great news for Carlos TEVEZ and Javier MASCHERANO.

Even though I still don't know who is going to replace PARDEW, I believe that CARLITOS and MASCHE would have never shone playing for him and his system.

It is ridiculous to use TEVEZ the way he is being used, without giving him the freedom he needs to terrorise defenders.

As for Javier, how can he be the midfield boss for Argentina (playing against world-class opponents) and not even making it to the bench at West Ham?

It is obviously due to bad management and I hope that with this change at the helm, that is coming to an end.

Favourites to replace PARDEW are Alan CURBISHLEY (great experience in the Premier League but I'm not sure about his relationship with foreign players) or Sven Goran ERIKSSON (a man who knows about managing Argentine players as the backbone of his Lazio side that won the Serie A in 1999-2000 was formed by Nestor SENSINI, Diego SIMEONE, Matias ALMEYDA and Juan Sebastian VERON).

We will see what happens but it is very clear to me that things can't go worse (I hope I'm not wrong here!)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fantastic performance by "DAVIS" NALBANDIAN

I was lucky enough to have Dubai Sports in my hotel room so I was able to watch the action live from Moscow.

When I started watching, Juan Ignacio CHELA was already trailing by 2 sets and I thought he could have pulled an amazing comeback but DAVYDENKO was solid today. Even though the sensational Argentina supporters made him struggle at some stages as MARADONA and company really got to his nerves!

Then David "DAVIS" NALBANDIAN simply destroyed Marat SAFIN. He looked in control since the very beginning when he broke SAFIN's serve in the opening game.

Tomorrow the doubles will be something special. It has the makings of a classic and could prove decisive for this Davis Cup final.

On Sunday, NALBANDIAN will play the first point against DAVYDENKO and we'll all be hoping a win can give us the elusive trophy we want to win so hard.


Sunday, November 26, 2006


Or should it be CARLITOS walks away?

Yesterday, after PARDEW decided to substitute TEVEZ with Teddy SHERINGHAM, the Argentine striker went to the locker rooms, had a shower and left the stadium before all his teammates and his manager.

This is not good news and it reminds me a bit of the TEVEZ we've seen in his last days at Corinthians. Nothing to do with the unstoppable CARLITOS who won everything with Boca Juniors and then was elected as the best player in the Brazilian league when he helped Corinthians to win the title.

It is pretty clear to me that he is unhappy at the moment and he doesn't know what is his role at West Ham.

Here is a link to an article published in the BBC with more info about this issue:

On another note, things are great here at Doha as I look forward for the football tournament to start on Tuesday. There is still unclear what is the situation with Iran and whether they'll be able to play here or not. It's keeping us really busy and it's making us write and re-write every article again and again and again...but I'm enjoying it anyway!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Extreme measures against violence in Argentine football

It was always going to happen. Unlike other critical moments in the past, no-one has died in a football-related violence episode in recent days. But the situation is unbearable.

After the big Avellaneda derby was abandoned after the Racing Club supporters had a go at the police (with their team losing 2-0), football in Argentina has hit rock bottom and things just couldn't continue like this.

Countless games have been abandoned because of violence (in every division) and to understand the league standings is a difficult task with all those teams having game-in-hand after several matches were cancelled and that's just the less important aspect of this whole situation.

Club's presidents (like Gimnasia´s J.J. MUÑOZ) who invade the referee´s locker room to death-threaten him; hooligans of that club doing the same with their players if they win against Boca Juniors hence benefiting Estudiantes (Gimnasia´s biggest rivals); riots; missile-throwing crowds...

It just got worst and worst and today, some extreme measures have been applied by the AFA.

Here´s a list of these measures:

1. From now on, there'll be no more away fans attending games from First Division down to Primera D (fifth tier football).

2. No more tickets sold on the day.

3. Access will be only given to members and season-ticket holders.

Another measure was taken to punish Racing Club (in an attempt to give an example of taking measures against a big club so there are no suspicions from fans of smaller clubs who have been always prosecuted by the AFA and bad refereeing decisions against them).

After the trouble caused by Racing fans on Sunday, they have been ordered to play against San Lorenzo in a neutral ground (despite the troubles being caused at Independiente's ground). Now they'll play at La Plata's new stadium and with another of the measures going into action right away, there'll be no San Lorenzo fans either (remember: no away fans from now on until further notice).

So the first outcome is another classic match between big clubs like Racing and San Lorenzo, being played in an empty stadium.

If you ask me...I rather have this, than the constant non-sense we're seeing week in and week out in Argentina.

I doubt we'll reach a final solution to these problems, but I'm glad that at least the authorities are trying something.

Next on the line will be the feared and almost never implemented points deduction for the clubs with trouble-maker hooligans.

All of these measures will be running until 2007 where I'm afraid...things are going to go back to (un)normal. It's a never-ending least until we remove the real cancer out of football: corrupted club's board-members.

They use hooligans to help them out with their campaigns, they sell cheap and buy expensive, they fix games and then they pretend to be victims of the whole situation.

Hopefully...before too long, we'll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A little bit more patience!

That's what I'd ask to all of this blog's visitors.

I'll be REALLY busy with work from this week until the end of the year.

I will eventually post the odd article but don't expect a new piece everyday.

What I did enjoy was the interaction between you with the comments (a lot of them with great information) and I would love to see that go on. I don't see why not.

Thanks in advance and VAMOS ARGENTINA!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Vamos Los Pumas!

It's rugby time, my friends!

Argentina is facing England today at the mythical Twickenham stadium and it is going to be a great test for Marcelo LOFFREDA's men.

We've never won in London (4 defeats, 1 draw) and this could be a good chance for a team formed by 8 players competing in the English Zurich Premier League.

Plus...I've got a bet on Los Pumas so the reward of winning could be even sweeter!

Anybody watching?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Five in four for Lisandro LOPEZ!

I must admit I was a little bit disappointed with the start of his European campaing playing for Porto.

He left Racing Club at top-goalscorer in Argentina and he struggled to become a first team regular in his first season.

But now Lisandro "Licha" LOPEZ seem to be enjoying himself and he is full of confidence while he keeps on getting more and more minutes.

Today he scored the first of Porto's 3 goals away against Vitoria Setubal and he kept his streak alive, scoring 5 goals in his last 4 matches!

It all started against Hamburg for the Champions League 3rd match day when LICHA got a brace in a 4-1 win.

Then he followed opening up the scoring against Benfica in Portugal biggest derby match.

Last Wednesday he scored again against Hamburg and with today's strike he's declaring he has no intentions to stop this impressive run of form.

Here's to LICHA keeping it up and getting another chance to play for Argentina!

Don't say OUI, say SI!

Raymond DOMENECH, France national team manager, is due to name on Thursday the squad for their upcoming match against Greece.

Now the rumours about Gonzalo HIGUAIN being in DOMENECH's radar are no longer rumours as the young River Plate forward is believed to be included on a preliminary list ahead of Thursday call up.

L'Equipe, the popular French newspaper, have published on their website a piece of news about this and you can read it here:

And you can translate it here:

You can also watch him in Spanish and saying that his priority is trying to win the league with River Plate.

I wouldn't want to be on his shoes right now as he is facing a decision that could hunt him down forever if he is not happy with it.

I guess we're gonna have to keep waiting and I wish DOMENECH, BASILE and the press can leave him alone while he gives this thing the time to think it properly and get to a final and very personal decision.

And we'll see which side of the road will he be on February 7th, 2007 when Argentina and France will meet up in Paris for a friendly match.

A football tour through Argentina

I came back to Buenos Aires a few days ago after my 3-week trip through Argentina, and now I sit here willing share with you one particular aspect I thought you might find interesting.

Throughout my trip, I’ve been to a rain forest in the North East with the gorgeous Iguazú Falls as the main attraction there. I’ve also been to the desert in the North West with a 90-square kms salt basin which was a pre-historic sea.

Then to the mountains that separate our country from Chile. Impressive views with 7-colours hills in the north and our continent’s top height (the Aconcagua -6.692 mts) a little bit down south in the beautiful Mendoza province, the land of wine and sunshine and the 7-lakes circuit in the provinces of Neuquen and Rio Negro.

Finally, we’ve got to the Atlantic coast and the whales were dancing in the bay, waiting for us to visit them.

I’ve got some pictures of every single place we’ve been but this time, those that I would like to share with you, were taken in some of my country's poorest regions. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the North, South, West or East, there is always one common link between the people in Argentina.

There is one thing that don’t care if you’re rich or you’re poor. If you’re catholic or you’re muslim. If you vote for left or right political parties.

Football is ever-present in Argentina and here you can see my very tiny little photo gallery of the diversity of pitches, surfaces and places you’ll see kids or grown-ups running like crazy behind the ball.
Picture index (from top to bottom)
1. A view through the wall in a local football club located in the outskirts of Cafayate, a little town near the province capital of Salta. Boca Juniors were facing Newell's at the same time, hence the empty pitch as everybody was watching the television.
2. A football match in a very irregular field in Tilcara, Jujuy. I was having trouble breathing because of the high-altitude and these guys were chasing the ball like mad people!
3-4. Some kids kicking it in Cafayate, Salta. I can tell you the one with the multi-coloured top sure has great reflexes on goal! Amazing stuff!
5. A chicken walking by as the kids play some footy. Cafayate, Salta.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

ZANETTI and Diego MILITO bursting the net

After a great mid-week with Lucho GONZALEZ, Lisandro LOPEZ and Julio CRUZ all scoring in the Champions League, we've got to the weekend and so far (Porto will play tomorrow) we only have 2 Argentine in the score sheet.

Javier ZANETTI (for top-of-the-table Inter against Ascoli)

Diego MILITO (for Zaragoza against Getafe -ABBONDANZIERI suffering the scoring power of joint-top-scorer in La Liga -with Freddy KANOUTE both with 8-)

Argentina through to Beach Soccer World Cup Quarterfinals

Where else than in Rio de Janeiro could this Beach Soccer World Cup be played?

I can’t think of a better stage for this competition.

Argentina is taking part of this and not only that: we are the first team qualified for the quarter-finals stage.

Heading Group D after defeating Nigeria (5-4) and Bahrain (2-1) we have to face Italy (already eliminated) on Monday in our last group game.

We’re not favourites to win the tournament but the boys will give it a try and our rival will be the 2nd-placed team from Group C (most likely Uruguay a team that defeated us in the semi-finals of the South American WC Qualifying tournament).

Anybody following the Beach Soccer World Cup?

This is a team profile from (

Argentina’s history in international beach soccer dates back to the sport’s formative period in mid-1993, when, alongside the USA, Brazil and Italy, they travelled to Miami Beach for the first tournament of the professional era. Foremost among the players to run out for that ground-breaking side were Sergio Goycochea and Julio Olarticoechea, two members of the Argentina squad that had finished runners-up at the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ in Italy.

Argentina also took part in the first unofficial Beach Soccer World Championship, in 1995, but failed to finish among the honours. Their best performance in the tournament would come six years later in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil, where they caused a sensation by beating the hosts. A dramatic semi-final reverse against France (5-4) left the Albiceleste to battle it out for third place with archrivals Brazil. With the odds stacked against them, the team coached by former professional Carlos Gerardo Russo secured a place on the podium with a 4-2 win over the Auriverde, in the process handing their neighbours their last regulation-time defeat in this competition.

In 2005, Argentina qualified for the inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, held in Rio de Janeiro, but were eliminated by the hosts in the quarter-finals. One year on and they are preparing to return to the same city and cement the progress made under coach Hector Francisco Petrasso, who steered them to third place in the South American qualifying tournament earlier this year.

Nowadays, Argentine beach soccer has the firm backing of the country’s football association, who have built a special pitch at their Buenos Aires headquarters to enable the national team to have training sessions and get-togethers when required.


The Albiceleste booked their place in Rio de Janeiro courtesy of a third-place finish in the South American qualifying tournament held last March in the Brazilian city of Macae. The team's passage was not all plain sailing, however, with qualification only secured in their final game against Venezuela. Prior to that, Petrasso's side had looked impressive at the group stage, where a defeat to eventual champions Brazil was their only blemish in five outings.
In the semi-final, Uruguay's extra-time winner denied Argentina a place in the decider, but the team bounced back to secure a berth in Rio with a cautious 2-0 win over the Vinotinto. All told, Argentina posted five wins and two defeats, with 26 goals for and 19 against.

The Coach

At just 36, Francisco Petrasso is one of the youngest national team coaches in the discipline, though he comes into this tournament with the advantage of having participated in last year's edition in Rio de Janeiro as a player. Now, as coach, Petrasso knows he has to make full use of his knowledge and experience if he is to boost the development of Argentine beach soccer with a big performance at the showpiece event in November. “I know this squad very well, having spent years with it as a player. I'm even friends with some of the team, which makes for easier communication. They understand my new role and know that I'm trying to do what is best for the team,” he said.

Player to watch

Leadership, talent and experience are just three of the qualities brought to the side by Ezequiel Hilaire, the eldest of three brothers in Argentina's beach soccer squad. The recently qualified attorney, a one-time member of the “Rest of the World” team, has become the standard bearer for his side, who often fail to reach the heights in his absence.
As well as the influential Ezequiel, mention should also be made of the solid and reassuring goalkeeper Marcelo Salgueiro, and the goalscoring instincts of Santiago Hilaire, the team's top marksman in the South American qualifiers.

What they said...

“This group is giving their all to be among the top four sides in the world. That's our goal, and I'm sure these guys deserve it. They are working extremely hard, have been playing together for a long time now and are a very tight-knit group.” (Francisco Petrasso, Argentina coach)

And the squad list for Argentina:

1. Marcelo SALGUEIRO (GK)
2. Santiago HILAIRE (MF)
3. Gustavo CASADO (MF)
5. Rodrigo LOPEZ (DF)
6. Leandro PARADISI (DF)
7. Federico HILAIRE (FW)
8. Federico ANDRADE (DF)
9. Facundo MINICI (FW)
10. Ezequiel HILAIRE (FW)
11. Lucas BACA (FW)
12. Cesar MENDOZA (GK)

Coach: PETRASSO Hector (ARG)

Just one more thing to add:


Saturday, October 28, 2006

A friendly against the Emirates?

Apparentely, from what I've read in the news, there'll be a friendly match against United Emirates in Abu Dhabi. The match will be played on November 15th. and it'll be the last of 2006 for Argentina if it is confirmed.

In other news, Gabriel BATISTUTA said that he would love to become manager of Argentina in the future and Diego MARADONA has been tempted to manage Honduras. An official offer by the Central American country is yet to be placed but Diego has shown some interest in at least taking part of a conversation.

I'm on my way to Puerto Madryn in the East Coast of the Patagonia and I'll hopefully get to see and touch the whales from a boat!

I'll be travelling the whole day on Sunday so I won't be around this blog but I'll read all your comments as soon as I have the chance.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A comeback for Juan Sebastián VERON?

Reporting from Mendoza now. Land of sunshine and wine (especially for you John!).

Just a quick post to talk about a possible comeback for Juan Sebastián VERON.

After being villified and blamed almost exclusively for Argentina's terrible 2002 WC campaign, Juan Sebastián VERON is playing at a very high level pulling the strings for an impressive Estudiantes de La Plata side which is having a saying in the fight for the title in Argentina (managed by Diego SIMEONE).

Now there are talks about the list of players based in Argentina that Alfio BASILE wants to call up to train with him twice a week in Buenos Aires.

And his name is one of the heaviest in that list. Will he get a call up? Does he deserve it? Does he deserve all the punishment the public is giving him after 2002?

Here's the list of players that would be on COCO's mind:

Oscar USTARI (Independiente)
Sebastián SAJA (San Lorenzo)
Gustavo CAMPAGNUOLO (Racing Club).

Hugo IBARRA (Boca Juniors)
Daniel DIAZ (Boca Juniors)
Juan KRUPOVIESA (Boca Juniors)
Hernán PELLERANO (Vélez)
Paulo FERRARI (River Plate)
Gustavo CABRAL (Racing Club)
Cristian VILLAGRA (Rosario Central)
Mauricio ROMERO (Lanús)
Germán RE (Newell’s).

Fernando GAGO (Boca Juniors)
Fernando BELLUSCHI (River Plate)
Juan Sebastián VERON (Estudiantes)
Nicolás CABRERA (Gimnasia)
Cristian PELLERANO (Nueva Chicago)
Juan Manuel TORRES (Racing Club)
Hernán ENCINA (Rosario Central)
Lucas CASTROMAN (Vélez)
Rodrigo ARCHUBI (Lanús)
Marcos AGUIRRE (Lanús)

Rodrigo PALACIO (Boca Juniors)
Martín PALERMO (Boca Juniors)
Mariano PAVONE (Estudiantes)
Daniel MONTENEGRO (Independiente)
Ernesto FARIAS (River Plate)
Gonzalo HIGUAIN (River Plate)
Ezequiel LAVEZZI (San Lorenzo)
Mauro ZARATE (Vélez).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

From ORTEGA's home-town

Hi there, I'm writing this from Jujuy, the province where Ariel ORTEGA was born. I'm not exactly in his home-town of Ledesma, but I'm pretty close to that in a beautiful town called Tilcara.

I just wanted to let you know that I'm so gutted with violence in football. The latest news is that the big clash between Racing Club and Boca Juniors, scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday, 22th.) has been cancelled because of violence-related issues.

You see...Boca Juniors' barra-brava (hooligans) were to be denied of a ticket at Racing's and a national judge (yes, those who are paid by the people to dictate justice!) is not allowing Racing to excercise the right of admission into its stadium. In other words, the judge is working in favour of the violent members of Boca's barrabrava and against football in general.

As a consecuence, the government said they won't send the security forces to take care of people for that particular match and so there are no guarantees for the spectators and public safe.

Hence? Violence have won and the best fixture of this weekend had to be cancelled. I hate it.

8 people (the identified members of that violent group) are again in the way of thousands who wanted to go to the stadium and millions who wanted to watch it on TV or listen on the radio.

I think it is appalling and I can't see a way out of this for football in Argentina until those who have a job to do, do it seriously and with responsibility.

Not like this national judge who has admitted he is a season ticket holder for Boca! Enough said...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

FIFA Ranking: Argentina down to 4th place

OK, I think this ranking is rubbish. That's the first thing I want to make perfectly clear.

BUT. Here's where I've got a mixed feeling about it.

For years, we've been in the Top 3 of that list. WC Qualy and probably Copa America and Confederations Cup helped us scored points in that questionable rank.

Call it inaccurate, biased or commercial, it was the FIFA Ranking who allowed us to be one of the seeded teams in the last World Cup and based on the way FIFA select the head of each group after every 4 years I think we should give this ranking the importance FIFA want us to give it.

Because they calculate the final position of every team in the last 3 World Cups plus the FIFA Ranking points to determine if a team is seeded or not and if it wasn't for our position in that table we would have been unseeded. Despite that priviledge we had, we still ended up playing two European teams (Holland + Serbia & Montenegro) and the strongest of the African representatives (Ivory Coast) but in order to avoid another unpleasant surprise in the draw for South Africa 2010 we need to keep our status high and stay as close as the Top 3 as we possibly can.

Now we've slipped to the 4th position in a rank still owned by Brazil who are followed by World Champions Italy and runners-up France.

Here are the Top 10 nations in the latest FIFA Rankings:

1. Brazil 1560
2. Italy 1540
3. France 1483
4. Argentina 1446
5. England 1370
6. Germany 1339
7. Netherlands 1313
8. Czech Republic 1253
9. Portugal 1224
10. Spain 1198

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What is the way forward for Argentina?

As you know, I'm on the road these days so I don't have much time online, but the interaction I've seen in our blog after my previous postings, really motivated me to stop by and start another discussion.

Another glory-less World Cup has come and go and Argentina are now 13 years without a major trophy in football (Copa America 93 in Ecuador).

We've enjoyed a few promising campaigns such as the USA 94 World Cup (before the Diego-gate) and the qualifying tournament for Korea/Japan 2002 with BIELSA when we were arguably one of the 2 or 3 best teams in the World.

But for one reason or another, we seem to be missing the killer instinct any team need to go all the way.

PEKERMAN is gone. BASILE is back at the helm and his fresh start couldn't have started worse.

The truth is he virtually had no time to work with the team (only 4 training sessions combined before losing to Brazil and Spain).

But is also true that most of the players he selected worked together in the build up for the World Cup and they know each other very well.

In several occassions BASILE said that he wants to form a group of players still competing in Argentina and train with them on a regular basis during the Apertura or Clausura tournaments. He said that we have to wait for him to be able to pick the local league's stars for us to see his real Argentina.

Now there is a public debate in Argentina because historically, our best players are bought by European teams and that kind of gives them a different status. Like if they belong to another category, while those who remain (for being too young to emigrate or for not being suitable for the European market) are looked with other eyes, like if they were not good enough to be picked for Argentina.

So the big question is: Are the Argentine playing in Europe better than those who still compete in our local league?

Wouldn't the local stars eventually emigrate to Europe lured by millionaire contracts and the prospect of securing a better life for them and their families?

Which side of the debate are you?

Do you prefer to see the big guns from Europe getting together for a couple of days before a friendly or a WC Qualifier? Or would you like to see a less experienced group working weekly and very closely with BASILE?

The answer to these questions will surely represent our chances of success or failure in the next few years. I hope COCO gets it right this time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Water everywhere!

Argentina lost their second friendly match in a row today against Spain. After being thrashed by Brazil (3-0), it was Spain who got the best from BASILE's men and left the Nueva Condomina Stadium victorious thanks to XAVI and David VILLA's strikes. Daniel BILOS, in for injured Maxi RODRIGUEZ, had equalised for Argentina.

On a curious note, I haven't seen the match which was played on a very wet surface because I was in front of the Devil's Throat (La Garganta del Diablo), the gigantic leap of water which graces with its presence the magnificient Iguazu Falls in the Argentine province of Misiones.

I will be travelling Argentina for the next couple of weeks and therefore I will only stop by to write a few things every now and then. In the meantime, I would love to read your comments on this match (i've seen a few in the other post) and your messages regarding anything else you'd like to say.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

River Plate claims victory in "El Superclasico"

Another edition of the famous Superclasico as every clash between River Plate and Boca Juniors is billed as in Argentina.

It is indeed the biggest and most popular fixture in this part of the World.

I left my grandma’s house after I watched on the television my beloved Racing defeat Colon 2-1 to earn our third straight win and I felt alone in this World! Nobody on the streets. Nobody in the buses or trains around the city. It was the fastest, easiest trip back home from Avellaneda and there was a reason: River was playing against Boca.

It wasn’t just quite when Argentina plays a World Cup match because that’s even bigger. But I felt something similar today.

River won 3-1 (Gonzalo HIGUAIN –pictured here- scoring twice and Ernesto FARIAS adding the third, while World Cup player Rodrigo PALACIO had equalise for Boca in the first half) and now the Torneo Apertura is open again with Boca leading River by one point and a host of other teams (Racing amongst them) chasing the two big guns.

Now I would like to ask you:
Where do you think El Superclasico ranks amongst the biggest derby matches in the World?

I’m sure there are plenty of other choices in the menu with Real Madrid-Barcelona, Inter-Juventus or Inter-Milan, Celtic-Rangers or Manchester United-Liverpool receiving votes. But where do you rank El Superclasico?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The owner of this blog SUPPORTS

Racing Club (Argentina) and Queens Park Rangers (England).

The first one is the team my father (RIP) and my grandfather supported since they were born and I kept the tradition of supporting them through thin and thin! (yes, because we've never been too good after 1967 -ten years before I was born-).

Racing Club has the same colours of Argentina (Albiceleste) and it hails from the city of Avellaneda, just outside Buenos Aires city limits to the south.

It was founded on March 25th, 1903 and it's nicknamed "La Academia" (The Academy) because back in the days before football became a professional sport in Argentina, Racing won 9 leagues (7 consecutive) and was the best team around.

It was also the first team to win 3 league titles in a row (1949-1950-1951) and the first Intercontinental (European-South American Cup) champion from Argentina, beating the famous Lisbon Lions team of Glasgow Celtic in the final in 1967.

After that, we spent 35 years without winning the title with 60 managers (yes! 60 managers!) trying to and failing to win the damn thing all those years.

We were relegated in 1983 and came back to the first division in 1985. We've won the first edition of the Supercopa in 1988 (a tournament played between all the Copa Libertadores champions) and finally in 2001 we stopped that bloody curse and we won the league with players like Diego MILITO amongst our stars (even though he was mostly a substitute back then).

The biggest pride during all those dark years in which the league title was so elusive with us was to have the most loyal set of fans. The "hinchada" of Racing overcame everything and kept the club alive (with the help of some politicians to be fair) when the economic crisis and a lot of corrupt members of the board threatened to end with Racing Club as we know it .

Mariano GONZALEZ (now at Inter), Diego MILITO (Zaragoza) and Lisandro LOPEZ (Porto FC) are amongst the players who started their careers at Racing in the recent years.

In history, Alfio BASILE, Roberto PERFUMO, Quique WOLFF (all of them playing for Argentina. PERFUMO (1966 and 1974) and WOLFF (1974) playing in World Cups, Orestes Omar CORBATTA and Ubaldo Matildo FILLOL are amongst the key figures and the main icons of Racing Club.

Here's a pic of the World’s biggest flag and this is the link to the Racing Club's official website (very nice and worth visiting):

As for QPR (Queens Park Rangers), I started supporting them after playing a couple of seasons of a Championship-Manager-like game. I was attracted by the name and the shirt and I was hooked forever. It was back in 1997 and I soon started looking for results, news and club’s history on the internet.

I became a regular poster in a QPR-related messageboard and the people there couldn’t believed that an Argentinean was so fanatic about a rather small London club.

Thanks to QPR and its wonderful fans, I’ve got to live what was (and still is) one of the highlights of my life.

After we secured promotion back to the Championship (England’s second tier) with a win 3-1 away win against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, a QPR Irish fan came up with the idea for all the regulars in that messageboard to gather some money to fly me over the London and get to watch QPR for the first time in my life. After 7 years of loyal support from across the ocean, they did it and they made me the World’s happiest man!

So September 11th, 2004 was the long-awaited date. QPR were playing against Plymouth Argyle at Loftus Road in what turned out to be my first live, on-site QPR experience. We won 3-2 after a run of terrible results and we started a series of 7 wins in a row after that! But the brightest of my memories from that day was to be introduced at halftime on the pitch!

I’ve got to play a little competition called round the pole. You had to go ten times round the pole and when you were all dizzy you had to take a penalty kick and try to score (avoiding falling on your back side, of course). I scored a great goal (top-right corner) and all the crowd was celebrating. Even the Plymouth fans!

After the match, I’ve got to meet the players and fellow Argentine Gino PADULA gave me the shirt he used just minutes before, while Big Danny SHITTU (now playing in the Premiership for Watford) gave me an honest praise after he saw me scoring from the penalty spot!

I even got to meet QPR legend Stanley BOWLES and I got an autographed copy of his biography at the club shop and I was interviewed by BBC London before the match!

The other magical thing about that whole experience was that thanks to that wonderful initiative by my fellow QPR supporters, I’ve got to meet again with my mum and my two brothers. And most importantly, I’ve got to meet my newly-born niece in Spain where my brother Martin was living at that time (with the help of my mum paying for the tickets from England to Spain). I was set to miss her birth and follow all those moments from afar, but QPR (its fans) made it possible for me to be there with my brother and live a wonderful couple of days with him and his lovely baby.

Some idiots (the minority) started calling me names in that messageboard and it really affected me. Some were saying I was not a true QPR fan and that I just wanted to get into England as an illegal immigrant! So it stopped me from posting so often because no matter what I wrote in there, I was being abused anyway. That was the only downside of my life as a QPR fan. That and being knocked out of the cup by Vauxhall Motors a few seasons ago! Haha!

But my love for QPR remains intact and I’ll always support them!

Amongst QPR highlights are the League Cup title in 1967 coming back from a 2-goal deficit against West Bromwich Albion at Wembley (while Racing were beating Celtic) and finishing second being pipped to the league title by Liverpool in the 1975-1976 season. Oh...we were so close! Will we be back? Honestly, I don't care!


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Other sports

I just came back from watching american football in Argentina.

And it was in the occassion for the 2nd. Silver Bowl, between the national teams of Argentina and Uruguay.

Last time around the Uruguayans won 24-0 playing at home. And today they were the winners again. Only this time it was by the minimum difference 7-6.

It was a great day out and a good experience, seen some friends involved in the national team of a sport which is not very popular in this latitudes.

You can visit the following website for more information:

Here are some more pictures from the SilverBowl II

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

ZANETTI playing his 500th match for Inter

His international career with Argentina might have come to an end a little bit before the last World Cup, when he was ignored by Nestor PEKERMAN.

But today is a special day for a very special player: Javier ZANETTI will be playing his 500th match for INTERNAZIONALE when the Italian giants face BAYERN MUNICH for the Champions League 2006/2007 second gameweek.

An example of durability and a high-performer playing his 12th consecutive season for Inter while collecting more than 100 caps for Argentina.

Forza Capitano!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

AIMAR, AYALA and CRESPO back in the Albiceleste

The friendly match against Spain is shaping up. And there are great news for some talented players that have been relegated in favour of others during the last few months.

Alfio BASILE named a list with an exciting mix of experience and youth. Amongst those who can help the youngsters with their advice and leadership in the pitch there are a couple of stand-out figures like Roberto AYALA, Hernán CRESPO and Pablo AIMAR.

In AYALA's case there is a special incentive because if he plays, he will equal Diego SIMEONE's record with 106 caps for Argentina.

Before further explanations, here is the list of players that will be making the trip to Murcia:


Roberto AYALA
Gabriel HEINZE
Gabriel MILITO

Leonardo PONZIO
Leandro SOMOZA
Daniel BILOS
Federico INSUA

Lionel MESSI
Carlos TEVEZ

The local players (those still competing in Argentina) were left out of this list because logistics and travels and time and competition being at the highest peak in Argentina were big obstacles.

I expect to see Fernando GAGO, Hugo IBARRA and Rodrigo PALACIO (to name just 3) to feature in our coming friendlies.

Highlights in my opinion:

I'm glad to see CRESPO back in the mix and listed amongst the finest of our younger talents.

Happy to see AIMAR looking as favourite to cover for RIQUELME as a playmaker. I've seen him playing for Zaragoza this season and he is looking fast and sharp, full of confidence.

Roberto AYALA played a great World Cup and he deserves to be back in the squad. He looks as number one favourite to claim the arm-band and become our new captain.

What would I like to see in the future?

A chance for Diego MILITO (provided he stays healthy) to widen our chances upfront even more.

And I hope Fabricio COLOCCINI is not called up again. I've got nothing personal against him. I simply don't think he has the tools needed to play at the highest international level.

COCO preparing to face Spain

While the Champions League is entertaining us today (with Nicolas FRUTOS scoring for Anderletch), Coco BASILE will announce the list of players he has in mind for the second friendly of his second tenure as Argentina manager.

The date is confirmed: October 11th at the Nueva Condomina Stadium in Murcia, Spain.

Now the main actors will be known today and the biggest comeback is a fan favourite who has been impressive in the last World Cup and during the last week of action in "La Liga de España" scoring two goals to help Atletico Madrid comeback against Sevilla to win 2-1. Of course I'm talking about Maxi RODRIGUEZ.

Yes, he has a couple of games he will have to miss out through a suspension after that post-match brawl against Germany in the last World Cup. But he'll have to miss official dates: Copa America or WC Qualifiers, so he is elegible to play this friendly against Spain.

Roberto AYALA will also be on COCO's plans and will probably become the next captain.

Those appear to be the biggest names in this, the first list after RIQUELME's international retirement.

I'll give you the full list later on tonight, once COCO announces it.

Other players almost certain to be a part of the list are:

Lionel MESSI

Carlos TEVEZ

Friday, September 22, 2006

Davis Cup: Argentina vs. Australia is underway

After David NALBANDIAN defeated Mark PHILIPPOUSIS in straight sets, José ACASUSO is battling very hard against Lleyton HEWITT in a game that went all the way to the 5th. set.

A great very active and vocal crowd said "here we are" and guess who is the leader in the stands?????

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I feel like starting a new section in this blog devoted to Argentina and sports (in no particular order!).

Every now and then I will feel like publishing an entry about a character in particular and what I feel about him/her.

I'll write something like: "THE OWNER OF THIS BLOG LOVES (......)" -and then I'll fill in the dotted line with a name-

And some other time I'll go like this: "THE OWNER OF THIS BLOG....
FEELS SORRY FOR, and a lot of different emotions/opinions about several celebrities/personalities.

I'll also offer a space for you to vent out your emotions/opinions on anybody from the sporting world.

This will give us reasons to talk about individuals in particular and express our feelings towards them.

I hope we can do it with all due respect to all the individuals named here and I'll avoid violence. If I don't like one or two characters, then I'll explain why but I'll do it with respect.

At the same time if you don't like one of the individuals I admire, I ask you to be polite and to give us your reasons without being offensive.

That said...I'll get the ball rolling by saying:



Because he was the best player I've ever seen live on a football pitch.Because he led my country to the most beautiful victory of all our history by winning the Mexico 86 World Cup almost by himself.
Because he scored the most beautiful goal in history of football.
Because he made a million mistakes and he paid for them with his health, his money, his career.
Because he dreamt his whole life of playing in a World Cup and winning it with the Albiceleste.
Because you'll never find a former team-mate saying bad things about him.
Because he decided not to join the establishment (which would have been the easiest path to take).
Because he IS football to me.

I get angry when the first thing I hear from people who hate MARADONA is: "He is a fat cheating drug addict". At the same time, I reckon those people have nothing to object if they had to talk only about football so they opt to speak about his off-the-pitch troubles.

Let's face it, nobody was capable of doing the things DIEGO did so naturally when he made the beautiful game look even more pretty. And while doing it he made Argentinos Juniors (his first club) popular around the World. Then took Napoli to glory for the first time in their history. He made the poor South of Italy happy by constantly defeating the big powerhouses from the North (Juve-Inter-Milan) and by winning 2 league titles and a UEFA Cup.

DIEGO: I felt terribly bad when your health was so compromised. I felt horrible when you made thousands of troubles in your public life (I'm not talking about personal life here. I'm talking about scandals in public.) but I know you were the one paying for those mistakes. Maybe you'll keep on paying for them until the end of your days.
But the happiness you gave to the people of your country and those supporting you and Argentina from every corner of the Earth is a million times bigger and will remain forever.
Like those memories when I first saw you live on a football pitch.

Your World Champion Argentina were playing a friendly match against Germany in Buenos Aires in 1987 (a year after both teams faced off in the World Cup final in Mexico) and you started doing keepy-uppy with an orange and then magically you sent the ball from the ground all the way over your shoulder to catch it with your hand while turning around facing the crowd with a smile in your face like if what you had just done was as easy as breathing. Up there, a few meters from the corner flag, there was a lucky 9-year-old child, who is now writing these lines, recording everything in his mind and knowing that from that moment on football for him had changed forever.

Because you ARE and you WILL EVER BE football.

Gracias Diego!

Davis Cup: Argentina getting ready to face Australia

Why do we hate Lleyton HEWITT?

Despite having a number of things to talk about, the huge number of tennis followers in Argentina only talk about one thing: Lleyton HEWITT.

I would like to stop that "movement" against Australia's number one racquet for the time being and concentrate on the most important aspects of this long-awaited semifinal match.

The colosseum is set

The brand new Parque Roca Stadium has been inaugurated this week and will host its first ever Davis Cup tie.

With a capacity of 14.000 spectators and a very compact design, Argentina will have the best vocal support they ever had.

To add a stylish detail to the party we'll have in Buenos Aires despite the result, the Parque Roca Stadium seats will be covered in ALBICELESTE colours.

Gladiator David looking for a partner

It’s been a rough year for many of our top tennis players.

Playing on clay, Argentina will have to refuse the idea of using Roland Garros 2004 champion Gastón GAUDIO. One of the best exponents of the sport from our country and a master in clay, is not happy with his current level of performances. He is being too erratic and so team skipper Alberto MANCINI decided not to call him up to face the Aussies.

Guillermo CORIA, runner-up in that edition of the French Open after an epic match against GAUDIO is struggling like never before. After a record number of double-faults he is now having trouble to even win a first round match in a challenger tournament (like this week when he lost against Romanian Sabau (167th in the world ranking) at Szczecin, Poland.

Another fallen star now playing challengers is Guillermo CAÑAS. His ban for doping has been lift and after a 15-months absence he is back for good. He won the Belem, Brazil challenger in good fashion, climb back up to the 514th place in the ranking (after being erased from it) and he looked totally fit and in great form. Now he dreams of making an international comeback if Argentina makes it to the final match. MANCINI says he’ll consider calling him because he is one of our best players in hard or fast courts and in case we face Russia it’ll be in that kind of surface.

With that scenario David NALBANDIAN, who is also not enjoying his best season, looks like the most solid figure to use in a Davis Cup semifinal.

The Cordoba-born top-10 player will play two single matches and the doubles encounter. And who will be Argentina’s second single player it is a big mystery up to today.

The rest of the team is composed by Agustín CALLERI, Juan Ignacio CHELA and José ACASUSO, with the latter being the one who appears to have more chances of facing HEWITT on Friday.

And so now we’re back again to talk about the Adelaide blonde kid.

Lleyton HEWITT will be on the spot light and he’ll hear a thousand insults coming his way from the ardent crowd at Parque Roca. But he deserves that treatment (of course I’m against physical violence and crowd misbehaviour) because he likes to generate that.
How? Not only by shouting “COME ONNNNNNN” at his opponents’ face everytime he has the chance. But there is also an added condiment in his rivalry with Argentina.

When Argentina and Australia were both competing in the Under-16 Davis Cup (or a similar tournament in which players represent their countries), the Albiceleste (formed by youngsters David NALBANDIAN and Guillermo CORIA amongst others) surprisingly lost to Venezuela in the first round. That night after the match, NALBANDIAN and CORIA started to hear somebody shouting and they went to the balcony to check it out. It was HEWITT with a banner that read: “ARGENTINA playing for 9th-16th” and he was singing the famous “Don’t cry for me Argentina”.

Ever since that happened, there has been bad blood between HEWITT and all the Argentine players. The latest example of this came today at a press conference when David NALBANDIAN said: “Nobody is friends with HEWITT in the ATP circuit”.

Juan Ignacio CHELA went too far once when he spat towards Lleyton to add spice to a bad-tempered relationship.

And so it is no surprise that also the fans picked him as the main target to off-load their anger. Especially when HEWITT, surrounded all the time by 2 bodyguards, repeatedly mentions the fear he has when arriving to Argentina because he feels the country is unsafe, like if people here were monsters.

A little history lesson

Argentina has a unique chance to emulate their best result ever in the Davis Cup: reaching the final.
The only time Argentina managed to do that was in 1981 when the great Guillermo VILAS and his partner José Luis CLERC lost against the USA (McENROE-CONNORS) after defeating Great Britain in the semifinals.

However there are a couple of worrying memories for Argentina because we’ve lost twice against Australia in semis.

1977 (the year I was born!) Guillermo VILAS was at his best (winning 16 tournaments –including Roland Garros and the US Open and setting the record of 53-straight wins in clay-) but Australia was too much for Argentina and they won 3-2 in Buenos Aires to advance to the final and to eventually win the cup.

1977 - Semifinal – September 14th–16th
Australia 3 – 2 Argentina, Buenos Aires (clay)
G. VILAS (ARG) b. P. DENT (AUS) 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
J. ALEXANDER (AUS) a R. CANO (AUS) 6-4, 6-0, 6-0
T. DENT – J. ALEXANDER (AUS) b. G. VILAS – R. CANO (ARG) 6-2, 4-6, 9-7, 4-6, 6-2
T. DENT (AUS) b. R. CANO (ARG) 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
G. VILAS (ARG) b. J. ALEXANDER (AUS) 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2

In 1990, Pat CASH and the grass surface in Sydney were a mountain to climb for Martin JAITE and current captain Alberto MANCINI. After the doubles match ended in a 15-13 5th set, we’ve lost 5-0 and were out again.

1990 - Semifinal - September 21th-23th
Australia 5-0 Argentina, Sydney (grass)
P. CASH (AUS) b. A. MANCINI (ARG) 6-1, 6-1, 6-2
W. MASUR (AUS) b. M. JAITE (ARG) 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2
D. CAHILL- M. KRATZMANN (AUS) b. J. FRANA - C. MINIUSSI (ARG) 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 15-13
P. CASH (AUS) b. M. JAITE (ARG) 7-5, 6-2
W. MASUR (AUS) b. J. FRANA (ARG) 6-2, 6-2

Will it be third-time lucky for Argentina?

On Thursday with the order of play being drawn, we’ll start getting some answers to that question.

Till then….VAMOS ARGENTINA!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Updated calendar

Here's the updated calendar with the scheduled activity for Argentina in the next few months:


Venue: Nueva Condomina Stadium, Murcia (Spain)

Venue: Brazil (several venues)

Venue: San Cristóbal (Venezuela)

Venue: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Venue: Mar del Plata (Argentina)

ODESUR GAMES (South American Games)- FUTSAL (indoor football)
Venue: Mar del Plata (Argentina)

SOURCE: AFA official website:

We've got a record of 5 wins, 2 draws and 3 defeats against Spain. Our last match against them was 2-0 victory for Argentina with Kily GONZALEZ and Mauricio POCHETTINO as scorers. It was November 17th. 1999.

BASILE's team will also play against France in Paris in February 2007 and a friendly against Italy is also being scheduled.

The friendly against Turkey in Germany has been cancelled and it looks like the World Champions could be our rivals on November 15th. The venue looks to be the Italian southern city of Bari.

It's been a long time since I remember a list of friendly matches as impressive as this one: Brazil, Spain, Italy and France!

It's obvious that the contract signed with the Russians is delivering the goods in this sense. I'm thrilled with the opportunity to face top teams (with great rivalry in some cases) and with the exposure our national team will get from those fixtures. The fact of facing the World Champions and the World Cup finalists is something that can't be beaten. And only good things could come out of such encounters.


Monday, September 18, 2006

MANOLO is back at home!

Granpa is at home!!!!

He was discharged from hospital and he is back with grandma!

Tonight is the first of many nights that I'll stay at home instead of being with him in hospital. So I'm slowly coming back to my "normal" sleeping hours and hopefully I'll resume a normal life soon.

Good old Manuel (I call him MANOLO) gave us a true scare but his recovery has been sensational. I'm going to visit him tomorrow for a Sudoku competition! haha! Not that I like numbers, but he does!

He even stood bravely in front of the TV while his beloved Racing Club lost the last two matches (3-2 against Argentinos Juniors and Arsenal), giving us all a proof that his heart is strong as ever!

Here's a pic of Manolo with me:

I'll try and update you more often with everything related to Argentina and hopefully with your help we can make this blog a better source of information for all Argentina fans around the World.

Thanks for your prayers and thoughts for Manolo. He thanks you dearly as I told him about it and he was deeply touched.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Adios Juan Roman RIQUELME!

One of the most beloved players in our team and yet one of the most hated has decided to end his international career and so, our defeat against Brazil could have possibly been the last time Juan Roman RIQUELME wore the Albiceleste.

He is announcing a decision that was rumoured for a long time and he seems adamant in keeping his word.

Juan Roman RIQUELME will anounce tonight that he will play no more for Argentina.

Here are some numbers to take a look at RIQUELME's campaign with Argentina:

Debut: November 16th, 1997 (Argentina 1 – Colombia 1)

Matches played: 37

Goals: 8

World Cup matches: 5 (all in Germany2006)

Titles with Argentina: Youth World Cup Malaysia 1997 and South American tournament also in 1997.

Despite being an admirer of some of the aspects of his game, I must say I think it is a good thing for us. Sometimes he looks like he doesn't want to play. At times it was an advantage because he was so cool when other players tend to lose their heads. But in the end, he lacks the inspirational power I thought he had and I think that we have a lot of time to find a proper replacement.

Now who should be RIQUELME's replacement?

AIMAR, D'ALESSANDRO, INSUA, MESSI (playing some yards behind his natural position?)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Reporting live: BEHIND ENEMY LINES!

Hello everyone! I'm dropping you a line of two with just over 20 minutes to go before the start of the match between Argentina and Brazil.

And I'm doing it from a very particular location. As some of you might know, I'm in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!

I've got my Argentina shirt and I'm ready to support our team in front of a couple of Brazilian friends of mine.

It's going to be a great experience and I'm looking forward for BASILE's team to give me reasons to be happy.

Lineups are confirmed and the first big surprise came with the decision BASILE made regarding who will be our captain today. There were talks about ABBONDANZIERI, SAMUEL, maybe MILITO, but COCO chose Juan Roman RIQUELME who will also be wearing the number 10 shirt.

Brazil won't have a magical number 10 playing for them today, because RONALDINHO is injured.

Our starting eleven?






Thursday, August 31, 2006

"I want to beat them 4-0" says COCO

Hi there, it's been incredibly busy for me during the last couple of weeks. I hope you are still visiting and standing by.

Our friendly against Brazil is around the corner now. COCO is in England and so are a lot of the players he has called up to begin his second era as Argentina manager.

For me it'll be a special occasion because when Argentina and Brazil will be playing at the Emirates Stadium in London, I'll be on "enemy's territory"!!! Yes, because of job-related issues, I'll be watching the match somewhere in the city of Rio de Janeiro!

It'll be quite an experience and I'll try to survive if we manage to win! haha!

Will let you know how it goes and will hopefully upload some pictures.

A lot is going on these days, so here are some brief news about football and basketball:


Poor old COCO BASILE will have some problems to field his favourite eleven, even from those players he chose for this special occasion.

Maxi RODRIGUEZ won't make the trip to London. He got injured and he is being treated by Atletico de Madrid's staff.

Juan Roman RIQUELME is also having some troubles. He sprained his ankle during training with Villarreal and he is a major doubt.

Cesar DELGADO, who plays for Cruz Azul, also missed the trip to London because of a minor injury.

That added to a complicated week Carlos TEVEZ and Javier MASCHERANO are living, it could lead to up to 4 World Cup stars out for Sunday.
However, the ex Corinthians duo are believed to have signed a contract with West Ham United and if everthing goes right they could be performing against Brazil.


Moments before departing from Buenos Aires on his way to London, Alfio BASILE said: "I want to score 4 on them and I want to keep a clean sheet".

"It's not much you can do with such a little time to work with the players", he added. "We'll focus on the dead ball situation and I'll talk to the players about where I want them to be positioned. Not much else. But my main goal is for our team to pass the ball around".

Being asked about having many short players he replied: "I like players who know how to play. And they play brilliant football that's why I like them".



PONZIO or ZABALETA (at right back)
Gabriel MILITO and Walter SAMUEL (as central defenders, with a chance for Fabricio FUENTES and Fabricio COLOCCINI there)
Clemente RODRIGUEZ (at left back)

Javier MASCHERANO (if he plays) or Leandro SOMOZA (at central midfield)
Lucho GONZALEZ and Federico INSUA (right and left midfield)
Juan Roman RIQUELME (playmaker behind the striking partnership). If RIQUELME sits out of the game, then INSUA will become the playmaker and Daniel BILOS will play on the left hand side of the midfield.

Lionel MESSI
Carlos TEVEZ (if he doesn't play, it'll be KUN AGÜERO's or Javier SAVIOLA's place)


Apart from the mentioned TEVEZ and MASCHERANO's move to West Ham United, there are other Argentina stars changing teams.
Leandro CUFRE has joined AC Monaco from AC Roma.

Juan Pablo SORIN will play in Germany (his sixth league in different countries). He'll have the chance to show Coco BASILE what he can give to Argentina by playing for Hamburg in both, the Bundesliga and the Champions League.

Fabricio FUENTES. One of the central defenders that will surely make his debut for Argentina on Sunday against Brazil has secured a move to Villarreal from Atlas, Mexico. He becomes the seventh argentine playing for the Yellow Submarine.

Javier SAVIOLA will finally stay at FC Barcelona. He decided that he will fight for a place in the team, despite starting out behind Eto'o, Messi, Ronaldinho, Gudjohnsen, Giuly and Esquerro in the pecking order.

Roberto AYALA is determined to leave Valencia and he could move to Real Madrid or Villarreal. That is yet to be decided.


Tomorrow morning (according to the Argentine timezone), the Olympic Champions will take on the impressive Spain for a place in the basketball world championships finals in Japan.

OK, history is on their side. We have a record of 2 wins and 16 defeats against in our overall head-to-head encounters. And we have defeated them for the last time 12 years ago!

Both teams are undefeated (7-0) and they know each other very well. The key for Argentina will be to impossed the rythm of the game and use the experience gained over the last four years with a second place in Indianapolis 2002 and the Olympic Gold.

Spain could fall into their typical disappointment (like they do over and over again in football) and never lived up to the expectations created. And Argentina could again raise to the occasion (like when we defeated Team USA at the Worlds and Olympic tournaments) against all odds.