Sunday, September 30, 2007

Los Pumas Tops Pool D In Style

If I had to convert some people to become new rugby fanatics, I just had to make them watch this game. There can't be a game that was played any better then how our beloved Los Pumas and the Irish did. This was perhaps the best match so far for me in this World Cup.

From the beginning I was at the edge of my seat. When the National Anthem was sang with pride and joy from both players and supporters, it was just one of those place that you feel that you have to be. The surrounding, the atmosphere was just pure, magic and beautiful.
As soon as Ronan O'GARA kicked off the game, there was sher pressure from Ireland for the first 10 minutes. From that moment it was game on. But right after that, Pumas weathered the storm and the rewards was a try from Lucas BORGES.
But still deep down I knew the Irish always have something up in their sleeves, when Brian O'DRISCOLL scored a try for them my heart was beating even more faster.

The second try by the Los Pumas was simply an awesome one, started by Juan Martin HERNANDEZ and finished off by Horacio AGULLA. Despite a 18-10 lead at half time, there was still a long way to go and when Geordan MURPHY converted another try, the 40 minutes to me looks like might take an hour to finish.

But two more penalties from CONTEPOMI and a drop goal from Juan Martin HERNANDEZ, made it sure that the IRISH was out of reach this time. (I screamed when the final whistle blew!!!)

But to me, the real winner was rugby itself. Muchos Gracias Los Pumas and Ireland for giving us a game worth remembering. At least for one day, they made rugby look like the most beautiful game.

And next up is Scotland, and I'm having rough time here as my Mom is half Scottish!!!But till then....


Friday, September 28, 2007

Pumas Line Up Against Ireland Confirmed

Marcelo LOFFREDA has announced on Friday the list of names that will take on Ireland in Pool D crucial match at Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Starting 15 :-
1 Rodrigo RONCERO
2 Mario Ledesma AROCENA
3 Juan Martín SCELZO
4 Carlos Ignacio Fernandez LOBBE
5 Patricio ALBACETE
7 Juan Martín Fernandez LOBBE
8 Gonzalo Longo ELIA
9 Agustín PICHOT (c)
10 Juan Martin HERNANDEZ
11 Horacio AGULLA
14 Lucas BORGES
15 Ignacio CORLETO

16 Alberto Vernet BASUALDO
17 Omar Hasan JALIL
18 Rimas Álvarez KAIRELIS
19 Martín DURAND
20 Nicolás Fernandez MIRANDA
21 Federico TODESCHINI

Thursday, September 27, 2007

COCO Calls RIQUELME For WC Qualifier

COCO Basile has selected playmaker Juan Roman RIQUELME in his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Venezuela. Though RIQUELME has not seen any action with Villarreal this season, BASILE, who is a big fan of RIQUELME, told reporters that the gifted midfielder is an important piece of puzzle of his squad.

The manager named 20 players for the World Cup qualifiers that will be played in mid-October. The remainder of the squad, which consists of home-based players, will join in after the 13th round of the Argentine Apertura Championship.

Despite the fact that RIQUELME has been inactive this season, after previous clashes with Villarreal manager Manuel PELLEGRINI, BASILE affirmed that the player should be in good form just in time for the two matches.

Here are the list players that will kick-start our road to glory to 2010.

Roberto ABBONDANZIERI (Getafe),
Oscar USTARI (Getafe).

Daniel DIAZ (Getafe),
Gabriel HEINZE (Real Madrid),
Gabriel MILITO (Barcelona),
Javier ZANETTI (Inter Milan),
Fabricio COLOCCINI (Deportivo La Coruna),
Martin DEMICHELIS (Bayern Munich),
Nicolas BURDISSO (Inter Milan).

Esteban CAMBIASSO (Inter Milan),
Maxi RODRIGUEZ (Atletico Madrid),
Fernando GAGO (Real Madrid),
Jonas GUTIERREZ (Mallorca),
Javier MASCHERANO (Liverpool),
Federico INSUA (Club America),
Juan Roman RIQUELME (Villarreal).

Lionel MESSI (Barcelona),
Javier SAVIOLA (Real Madrid),
Sergio AGUERO (Atletico Madrid),
Carlos TEVEZ (Manchester United)

Personally I feel this is a strong team when considering the fact that we are playing Chile and Venezuela (not to disrespect them), so I’m confident we should have six points in the bag.

Among the most notable absence from this list is Hernan CRESPO, but in TEVEZ, KUN and MESSI, COCO has plenty of firepower upfront.

PATO is most likely to be favourite to guard the post. In defence, my personal choice will be ZANETTI on the right, HEINZE on the left with MILITO and DEMICHELIS partnering in center.

The midfield quartet will be very much similar to the Copa America line up. RIQUELME will resume the play making duty and MASHERANO will take on the ball winning role. CAMBIASSO as always been COCO's preferred choice the left and MAXI will claim the right hand duty.

This is just for now, so until have the full squad completed, we will not have clear indication on what are COCO's plan for these matches.

Now the question here is, which home-based players are most likely to make it into the team? In your opinion, what could be the best formation that COCO should emphasis?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pumas/Ireland Rivalry Resume

The date; 30th September 2007. The place; Parc des Princes, Paris. The occasion; to witness one of rugby’s World Cup most decorated rivalry in recent times, if not perhaps maybe the best. For the third consecutive World Cup, Los Pumas and the boys in green of Ireland will resume their battle on the rugby pitch. And once again the stakes are no different than before, to book a place in the quarter-finals.

Since their first meeting on that famous night in Lens in 1999, Los Pumas have grown from strength to strength to become the game´s most potent force outside the Tri and Six Nations countries. While the Irish, are still very much renowned as one of the best in the world.

So what can we expect from this crucial clash of titans in Pool D? Well this time around, Gonzalo QUESADA will not be the one converting those penalties and drop goals, while Ireland will not have the legendary Keith WOOD leading them into the field. But still the main ingredients, as they were displayed in the previous two meetings, will always be there: passion, determination and full commitment.

For Los Pumas, things just seems to be getting better and better at this World Cup. Ever since that famous victory over France in the opening day right up to the demolishing of Namibia, it seems like destiny is written all over the wall for Señor LOFFREDA and his army to achieve greatness and immortality. Now the only thing that separates them from their destiny is just one point and I repeat, one point only.

At this stage, we can say that we’ve made it to the next stage but that very important one point could prove to be too much to let go. Being grouped together with two other giants, it seems the only thing we can ask for is to progress to the next stage and after that for better or worse face the mighty All Blacks. Now, avoiding them, seems more like a reality rather than a distance dream.

As for the Irish, personally I find it hard to believe that they are in this situation. Early this year during the Six Nation (very unlucky not to win it), I felt they were probably the second best team in the world. Now a couple of hard fought victories against Namibia & Georgia and a defeat to France, have left Eddie O’SULLIVAN and his boys with no choice but to win. And they also need the bonus point as well (to make things even more complicated, they must avoid Los Pumas from claiming a bonus point!!!). Their "mission impossible" consists on scoring 4 tries against the only team yet to concede a single try in the entire Rugby World Cup.

Current form may leave us with a better chance of going through but anyone who knows his/her rugby well, will tell you to never ever underestimate Ronan O’GARA, Brian O'DRISCOLL and company.
Now here is a Blast From The Past between these two respected rivals at the Rugby World Cup.

20th October 1999, Stade Félix Bollaert, Lens

If this was a boxing event, it would have probably been known as the HUMPHREYS vs. QUESADA match.

When David HUMPHREYS converted a drop goal on the 45th min, the score line was 21-9 and the Irish look all set to face France in the quarterfinals. The Irish were so confident, that some of the fans had already bought their tickets (before the match that is) for the next game schedule to be played in Dublin. But nobody would have ever expected what was about to happen.

After 3 consecutive penalties by QUESADA (47th, 55th & 65th minute) plus another one from HUMPHREYS (61st minute), the score was brought to 24-18 for Ireland. Suddenly there seemed to be very little hope for a dramatic comeback. Yet, had I tell this to anyone back then, people would have probably laughed at me.

A try from Diego ALBANESE in the 74th minute with QUESADA converting the kick gave Los Pumas a 25-24 lead and stunned everyone in the stadium. At this point of time, the Irish were in panic mode but still the game was anyone’s for the taking.

Despite plenty of retaliation from the Irish side to score a try, another penalty by QUESADA in the dying minutes, sealed the deal for Los Pumas and they achieved a massive upset over Ireland. This was a result that sent a shock wave throughout the rugby community.

26th October 2003, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

When Ireland and Argentina were drawn together in the same pool, the one thing that people couldn’t stop talking was that night in Lens. It was so fresh in the minds of both sets of players as if it only happened yesterday. One commentator even did mention that this match was going to get both sets of supporters chewing their fingernail.

The memories came back even stronger when QUESADA opened the scoring with a 7th-minute long-range effort. Then the Irish stormed back with a try in the 17th minute courtesy of Alan QUILAN, followed by a conversion from, who else but David HUMPHREYS.

A drop goal and a penalty by QUESADA served to reduce the deficit to a single point. 10-9 was the lead in favour of Ireland at half time. Then a drop goal by Ignacio CORLETO put Argentina in the lead but two successive penalties from Ronan O’GARA saw Argentina trailing 12-16.

With seven minutes to go, QUESADA was there again to convert another penalty to again take Argentina within one point (15-16) and to bring the entire crowd to their feet for a massive conclusion. Only this time, it was a little too late for Los Pumas as Ireland held on to their nerve for the victory. Truly a blood and guts performance from both sides.

Now back to 2007. So which way is this match heading this time? Can Los Pumas gain that one point and march on to the last eight? Or will the Irish Luck finally smile on the boys in green to create a Houdini act? Only time will tell.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hitting form just before facing Chile?

The Copa America defeat against Brazil was a huge blow to take (still is). The risks were too many. All the voices against Coco BASILE started being louder and louder and under those circumstances, the pressure the manager and the players he picks have on their shoulders, can be their worst enemy.

A defeat to Norway made things even worse but beating Australia in Melbourne gave our players a little bit more confidence.

In any case, we shouldn't take too seriously the results or the performances we've seen in those two matches. The real thing starts next month and I'm seeing very positive signs when I watch our national team players having good performances week in, week out in Europe's top competitions.

Today, Carlos TEVEZ finally scored his first Premiership goal for United and it came against bitter rivals, Chelsea in a 2-0 win over the former Jose MOURINHO's team.

Last week, it was impossible for me to write, but I wanted to mention SAVIOLA, HIGUAIN, CRESPO, Diego MILITO and Sergio AGÜERO, all of them scoring for their clubs.

A great competition for places and good news for COCO. A lot of his striking options are finding the back of the net just in time to face Marcelo BIELSA's Chile on October 13 in Buenos Aires, to start our World Cup 2010 Qualifying campaign.

And it's impossible to keep talking about our key players, without mentioning the top of the lot: Lionel MESSI.

The Flea just can't stop! And there's no stopping him either. He scored a brace on Saturday to help a RONALDINHO-less Barcelona beat UEFA Cup two-times defending champions, Sevilla. Those two goals came a couple of days after MESSI outclassed Olympique Lyonnais in the Champions League, with a goal and a shot that was deflected by CLERC into his own net.

Our ace of spades seems ready to start a new era as the most important player in our national team. A lot more responsibility will come with that, but MESSI seems to be ready to take whatever pressures could be on his shoulders.

I trust him. I'm in peace.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Try fest for Pumas, one step away from the QF

I'm actually writing this from the Stade Velodrome where a huge Albiceleste crowd are cheering Los Pumas as they are comprehensively defeating Namibia in their third Pool D match.

Right now, the score is 63-3. The win and the bonus point are already in the bag and the only thing keeping us from reaching the quarter-finals is the match against Ireland (September 30 at the Parc des Princes in Paris).

A win and we are through, avoiding a clash against the mighty All Blacks. A draw and we are through. A loss with Ireland not getting the bonus point and we are through!

All and all, an impressive performance by Los Pumas in this World Cup, where they are the only team in the tournament yet to concede a try! (typical...I finish writing this and they concede it! haha! Hopefully not!).

OK, I'm off to try and interview some of the players.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pumas Captain PICHOT Returns

Pumas captain and scrum-half Agustin PICHOT, who missed last week's 33-3 win over Georgia, returns from injury just in time for the match against Namibia which will take place in Marseille. His name was included in the in starting 15, named by coach Marcelo LOFFREDA in Lyon.

Felipe CONTEPOMI, who played at centre in the victories over hosts France and Georgia, will play in his usual position at fly half as he does for his club Leinster, due to the absent of injured Juan Martin HERNANDEZ

Also recovered from injury are reserve fly-half Federico TODESCHINI and he will start from the bench. His recovery was crucial in LOFFREDA's decision on whether to decide to send him and call up a squad replacement

Other notable returnees were lock Ignacio Fernandez LOBBE and number eight Gonzalo LONGO. LOBBE, concussed in the 17-12 upset against France, returns to the second row while LONGO start from the bench.

Juan Manuel LEGUIZAMON will resume his duty in the middle of the back row of the starting position.

LOFFREDA has also decided to include Hooker Mario LEDESMA in the bench, though he is still nursing a minor injury from the Georgia match.

Starting 15 :

1-Rodrigo RONCERO
2-Alberto Vernet BASUALDO
3-Omar HASAN
4-Ignacio Fernandez LOBBE
5-Patricio ALBACETE
7-Juan Fernandez LOBBE
8-Juan Manuel LEGUIZAMON
9-Agustin PICHOT (captain)
11-Horacio AGULLA
13-Gonzalo TIESI
15-Ignacio CORLETO

Replacements :

16-Mario LEDESMA
17-Martin SCELZO
18-Rimas ALVAREZ
19-Gonzalo LONGO
20-Nicolas Fernandez MIRANDA
21-Federico TODESCHINI

22-Federico SERRA

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Champions League News

FC Barcelona vs. Olympique Lyonnais
I have to agree with Johnny (his comments from the previous article) as MESSI was unstoppable that without a doubt he was the man of the match. With him and Gabriel MILITO in the starting line up, Barca cruised through 3-0 win over the French champions.

Sporting Clube de Portugal vs. Manchester United

No Carlos TEVEZ in the starting line up as his place was taken away with the arrival Wayne ROONEY from injury. He was brought in a substitution later in the game. On the opposite side, Leandro ROMAGNOLI was a starter. A 1-0 win for the Red Devils and I wonder is this bad news for TEVEZ?

Fenerbahçe S.K vs. Inter Milan

Despite having the likes of Javier ZANETTI, Esteban CAMBIASSO, Santiago SOLARI and Walter SAMUEL on the starting line up it wasn’t happy night for the Serie A champions as they suffered a shock 1-0 loss against the Turkish side. Hernan CRESPO was on the bench.

Arsenal vs. Sevilla FC

Federico FAZIO played as a center back but the Gunners sensationally won 3-0

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Champions League News

FC Porto vs. Liverpool FC
Both Lisandro LOPEZ and Lucho GOZALEZ of FC Porto and Javier MASCHERANO of Liverpool were starters in their Champions League clash. The match ended in 1-1 draw after Dirk KUYT has cancelled out LUCHO eighth minute penalty lead for PORTO.

Olympiakos vs. SS Lazio

Luciano GALLETTI scored for the Greek side and was voted man of the match after some superb display, which also saw teammate Cristian Raúl LEDESMA in starting line up as well. On the opposite side, Cristian Daniel LEDESMA was in the starting line up so please don’t be confused here. The match ended in a 1-1 draw after Luciano ZAURI equalized for the Italians

AC Milan vs. SL Benfica

Angel DI MARIA was a starter for Benfica but it wasn’t happy ending for the Portuguese side as they went down to the defending champion 2-1.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

FIFA Women's WC 2007 – Do or Die Mission Against Japan

The stakes are very much for Argentina after getting off to a worse start at China 2007, suffering an 11-0 defeat at the hands of Germany. And if they are to keep their stuttering challenge alive going into the final round of group matches, then nothing less than a win against the Japanese will do. Not that Carlos BORELLO's girls will have things easy. Japan showed their willpower and tenacity by scoring deep into injury time to steal a precious point against England.
Catalina PEREZ is available for selection after serving a one-match suspension, while Celeste BARBITTA's left ankle is BORELLO's sole injury concern.

Team captain, Eva GONZALEZ says " We know Japan well. They are a fast team who play good football but are not as physical as Germany. It will be a totally different game, nothing to do with what happened in our opening match. We need to win if we want to qualify".
Argentina were on the receiving end of a 6-0 scoreline when the two sides met in the first phase at USA 2003, a one-sided contest in which Mio OTANI scored a hat-trick in only eight minutes - the fastest ever in the history of the FIFA Women's World Cup. For BORELLO and his ladies, history doesn't look like to be their favourite subject at the moment. After all the 11-0 bashing from Germany is Women's World Cup record.

Good luck Ladies!!!

The match will take place in Shanghai, 14th of September

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Los Pumas with a bonus win against Georgia

It was the moment to confirm all the good things done against France in the Rugby World Cup opening match. The rival, not so fancy or dangerous on paper, proved to be a very tough bone to bite. Georgia made our lives really difficult in a first half that ended 6-3 for LOFFREDA's men.

But the Georgians seem to ran out of gas in the second half while Argentina improved dramatically and turned on the style.

Two tries from small guy Lucas BORGES and one from Patricio Albacete, put Argentina on the brink of getting that crucial fourth try that grants the bonus point.

And with seconds to go, Federico Martín ARAMBURU got a pass from Juan Martín HERNANDEZ and burst into the Georgian ingoal to get that extra point and secure the 33-3 win that sends Argentina to the top of Pool D.

A lovely Tuesday for the Albicelestes with COCO's men winning in Melbourne and LOFFREDA's Pumas doing the same in Lyon.

Argentina 1-0 Australia

I don't have the time for a complete match review (and if I had the time I wouldn't write it anyway because I didn't watch it!).

But here's DEMICHELIS' goal (cross by MESSI from the right but with his left foot! ;)

Monday, September 10, 2007

COCO's Eleven to face Australia

A hit after a hit and very few smiles lately. The last ones I recall are after the Copa America semifinals. Now the team is reaching a crucial stage in which will have to face Marcelo BIELSA's Chilean national team in Buenos Aires next month, and our players really need a morale boost before that.

We've left a chance go by when we lost against Norway (a couple of weeks ago) and now we've got another one in the shape of Australia.

COCO has named the following starting eleven:





So the addition of DEMICHELIS as a central defender looks good on paper. Jonas will try and do a Maxi, while the play-making responsibility will once again be of Federico INSUA.

Up front, probably the two darlings of the common people. They have to be the most beloved players by the majority of the people and I can't see many people complaining about them being selected.

We'll see how they click together and if INSUA can pull the strings behind them.

The match will be played on Tuesday (6:30 AM Buenos Aires) in Melbourne.

Los Pumas Ring The Changes

Pumas coach Marcelo LOFFREDA has decided to retain just nine players of the side that played against France on Friday. The reason is due to the fixtures, on which Argentina will play two matches in five days.
Agustin PICHOT will once again lead the team and resumes his half-back partnership with Juan Martin HERNANDEZ.

Felipe CONTEPOMI, who kicked 12 points against hosts France in a gripping World Cup curtain raiser, continues at inside centre but his twin Manuel drops out of the squad.

In one of two changes to the backs, Gonzalo TIESI is instead handed the number 13 shirt and Federico Martin ARAMBURU replaces Horacio AGULLA on the left wing.

Only hooker Mario LEDESMA remains from the front row that ran out in Paris with Marcos AYERZA and Santiago Gonzalez BONORINO the new props.

Rimas Alvarez KAIRELIS replaces Carlos Ignacio FERNANDEZ LOBBE at lock and Martin DURAND is given the nod at blindside, coming in for Lucas OSTIGLIA.

The pack selected for Georgia is identical to the one that finished at the Stade de France.
Team: I Corleto; L Borges, G Tiesi, F Contepomi, F Aramburu; J-M Hernandez, A Pichot; M Ayerza, M Ledesma, S Bonorino, R Alvarez Kairelis, P Albacete, M Durand, J-M Fernandez Lobbe, J-M Leguizamon.

Replacements: A Basualdo, O Hasan, E Lozada, M Schusterman, N Miranda, F Todeschini, F Miras.

FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007

We have seen the men (Copa America 2007), the adolescents (Under-20), the boys (Under-17), the tallest (FIBA Americas), the ruthless (Los Pumas) and many more in action. Now it is time for the ladies to show us what they’ve got. I did remember writing a brief preview on the Senoritas Albiceleste back in April on what an achievement it was for them to qualify ahead of Brazil.


Back in 2003, Argentina made their FIFA Women's World Cup debut after CONMEBOL were granted an additional qualifying berth for the finals in the USA. Despite the fact that BORELLO's charges had something of a baptism of fire there, losing all three games, conceding 15 goals and scoring just one, they vowed to come back stronger for the experience.

26th November 2006 will forever be remembered as a landmark day in the annals of Argentine women's football. Not just because the team sealed qualification for China 2007, but also because of the manner in which they achieved it - beating archrivals Brazil for the first time, and all in front of their delighted supporters in the coastal resort of Mar del Plata

“The team has picked up plenty of experience," BORELLO says. "Naturally there's always room for improvement in this game, particularly in women's football. But the younger girls have come on leaps and bounds and that's made us more ambitious and flexible. It's the best thing that could have happened to us."

Before jetting off to the Orient, BORELLO also spoke of the almost religious fervour with which the game is followed at home and the pressure that puts on his charges. "Argentina have always been a world power in the men's game, and people seem keen therefore to compare us with them. We've still got some way to go obviously, but it's just something we have to put up with. If you look at the United States, the reverse is true. Their men aren't among the world's best, but the women are right up there."

The Group

Argentina could hardly be facing a tougher start to their Chinese campaign. First up in Group A are defending champions Germany, who beat the South Americans 6-1 back in 2003. Despite the odds, BORELLO is confident his side can come good. "The players were happy when they heard they'd been drawn against Germany. Just as they wanted revenge against Brazil, they now want to get their own back against the Germans. They won't have an easy time against us I can tell you."

The girls in blue and white then do battle with England and Japan, another side to put six past them four years ago. "I think we'll be fighting to be among the top ten within the next four years," continues BORELLO, undaunted by the challenges ahead. "This team is capable of anything, though. Once we get to China we'll be out to win each game."

The Team


Romina FERRO (1,No Club affiliation), Vanina CORREA (12, Renato Cesarini), Elisabeth MINNIG (21, AFA)


Eva GONZALEZ (2, Boca Juniors), Valeria COTELO (3, Boca Juniors), Gabriela CHAVEZ (4, Independiente), Carmen BRUSCA (5, Boca Juniors), Sabrina BARBITTA (6, Boca Juniors), Clarisa HUBER (8, Boca Juniors), Catalina PEREZ (14, River Plate)


Rosana GOMEZ (11, Boca Juniors), Maria QUINONES (13, San Lorenzo), Florencia MANDRILE (15, San Lorenzo), Fabiana VALLEJOS (17, Boca Juniors)


Ludmila MANICLER (7, Independiente), Natalia GATTI (9, Boca Juniors), Emilia MENDIETA (10, AFA), Andrea OJEDA (16, Boca Juniors), Maria POTASSA (18, AFA), Analia ALMEIDA (19, San Lorenzo), Mercedes PEREYRA (20, River Plate)


Jose Carlos BORRELLO

In goal, Argentina are fortunate to be able to call on the experienced and safe hands of Romina FERRO, at veteran of USA 2003.

Other senior players include the astute Marisa PEREZ in midfield, influential playmaker Rosana GOMEZ.

At the other end of the spectrum are defender Eva GONZALEZ and striker Maria POTASSA, two starlets who made the breakthrough at Women’s Under-20 World Cup in Russia 2006 and shot to fame with the winning goals against the previously all-conquering Canarinha.

Emilia MENDIETA was call upon as a replacement striker after injury suffered by the influential Mariela CORONEL at the very last minute

As for the team's playing style, BORELLO can take considerable satisfaction from seeing his charges mastering the passing and ball-control skills he values so highly. However, on the debit side, he still has some way to go in helping them overcome perhaps their biggest weakness: their profligacy in front of goal - a luxury they will not be permitted against the top teams in the world at China 2007.

Before her injury, CORONEL said that "The prospects are good. The team has improved a lot in the last few months, both collectively and individually, and our first objective is to get past the first round. I think we can do that because there's not that much difference between us and anyone now. We've closed the gap on the strongest sides."

And who can argue with her? Brazil for one can vouch for that improvement, and more than a few observers believe there could be a surprise or two in store in the Far East. Germany and Japan, Argentina's six-goal conquerors in 2003, are their first targets in China, and BORELLO's girls are itching to exact revenge

Friday, September 07, 2007

Los Pumas write a golden page in the history book

They were the underdogs, but the French knew how dangerous the Pumas could be. It's been not an easy task for Les Bleus to beat Argentina lately and the pressure of being favourites and playing at home, proved to be too much for them.

Argentina played a great first half, with the highlight being Ignacio CORLETO's try, and then hung on for dear life in the second to win 17-12 and to hand France their first ever defeat in the group stage of a Rugby World Cup.

This is also the first time France have been defeated by a team outside the Tri-Nations (New Zealand, South Africa and Australia) and England and the first time Los Pumas won their opening match (after losing to Fiji in 1987, Australia 1991 and 2003, England in 1995 and Wales in 1999).

Los Pumas are in control of their own destiny and if they beat Georgia and Namibia (they should) and then they defeat Ireland (they could), then the miracle of avoiding the All Blacks in the quarterfinals will be possible and their adventure in the World Cup could continue as far as to the semifinals (with a probable face-off against Italy or Scotland in the quarterfinals).

But now is not the time to talk about that. Now's the time to enjoy the moment, grab a baguette, some cheese and the best red wine and celebrate!

Allez Los Pumas!

(Check out some pictures of the celebrations at the Stade de France:

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Line-up confirmed for Los Pumas to face France

A couple of days before the Rugby World Cup kick-off, Marcelo LOFFREDA have announced the starting line-up for Los Pumas to face home-team France at the Stade de France in Saint Denis.

There were doubts about Federico TODESCHINI's fitness after having problems in training during the week, but despite him being declared match-fit by the medical staff, LOFFREDA have decided to bench him and use Juan Martín HERNANDEZ as a fly-half (despite him being used to play as full back for Stade Français in the French league). Ignacio CORLETO (a proven wing also for Stade Français) will then cover the full back position.

In TODESCHINI's absence, kicking duties will most likely rely on Felipe CONTEPOMI's right boot.

Here's the starting XV that will wear the albicelestes hoops:

1- Rodrigo RONCERO
2- Mario LEDESMA
3- Martín SCELZO
5- Patricio ALBACETE
8- Juan Manuel LEGUIZAMON
9- Agustín PICHOT (captain)
10- Juan Martín HERNANDEZ
11- Horacio AGULLA
12- Felipe CONTEPOMI
13- Manuel CONTEPOMI
14- Lucas BORGES
15- Ignacio CORLETO

18- Rimas ÁLVAREZ
19- Martín DURAND
21- Federico TODESCHINI
22- Hernán SENILLOSA

France is also confirmed for the big Friday's match. Les Bleus will jump to the field with the following 15 men:

1 Olivier MILLOUD
2 Raphael IBAÑEZ (captain)
3 Pieter de VILLIERS
4 Fabien PELOUS
5 Jérome THION
6 Serge BETSEN
9 Pierre MIGNONI
10 David SKRELA
11 Christophe DOMINICI
12 Damien TRAILLE
13 Yannick JAUZION
14 Aurélien ROUGERIE
15 Cédric HEYMANS

17 Jean Baptiste POUX
18 Sébastien CHABAL
19 Julien BONNAIRE
20 Thierry DUSAUTOIR
21 Jean Baptiste ELISSALDE
22 Frédéric MICHALAK

Tennis US Open - CHELA Sole Survivor

Juan Ignacio CHELA struggled mightily in five-set matches in the first eight years of his career. Up until this past July, he had lost all eight that he had played.

But apparently he’s figured something out. The No. 20 seed, took out up-and-coming, 22-year-old Swiss star Stanislas WAWRINKA in a 3-hour, 41-minute seesaw battle, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 6-4 -- his second straight five-set win here at the Open. He also won a five-setter at Wimbledon this year that makes it three in a row.
“I didn't think too much, down two-love [in the fifth], I just think to play point by point,’’ said CHELA, normally known for his clay-court prowess. "It was very tough. Now I'm tired. But I have a day off tomorrow, and I'm gonna be very good for Thursday.''

CHELA will next take on the winner of the Rafael NADAL-David FERRER match. For his part, he doesn’t have a preference as to whom he plays.

“Well, for me is the same. Both are very tough, they play in the baseline,’’ CHELA said. “It gonna be for sure a long match.”

CHELA will now be the sole Albiceleste representative left in the US Open after Juan MONACO lost to Novak DJOKOVIC 5-7, 6-7, 7-6 & 1-6.

Monday, September 03, 2007

COCO and RIQUELME with new headaches

One week to go for Argentina's friendly match against Australia, three less players that will be making the trip down under.

Daniel "Cata" DIAZ, Maxi RODRIGUEZ and Hernán CRESPO won't be part of the travelling team and with little time to plan, BASILE have decided not to replace them.

DIAZ will miss the trip due to personal reasons. Maxi have suffered a muscular injury in his right leg playing for Atletico de Madrid against Mallorca while CRESPO is still not in his best form after the injury sustained at the Copa America.

More headaches for a manager that is desperate to win a match. Any match.

Will we see more of RIQUELME this season?

Apparentely not. Boca Juniors wanted to take him on loan for a couple of years, Atletico de Madrid also showed interest but both negotiations collapsed. Now Villarreal, owner of RIQUELME's rights, will not use him as Roman's relationship with manager Manuel PELLEGRINI is non-existant.

In the appears as if Juan Roman RIQUELME will be away from the action at least until January.

Like him or not, this is a big loss for football.

2007 FIBA Americas Post Mortem

Just incase if anyone wish to know what was the outcome in the final match between the Tall Albiceleste and USA, well the Americans won 118-81. Don’t be bothered by the score line because our mission was done and dusted before the match even started.

Much to my surprise the MVP award went to non-other than Luis SCOLA. This would cap another milestone is his already successful career. To think about it, after carrying the team like no else could, he truly deserves this. For sure things are about to get excited in Houston when the new NBA season starts.
Now I would like to recap on the team and tournament overall (also to follow up on Seba’s previous comment). No doubt Sergio can take a lot positive points from this competition for achieving something without our entire NBA superstar but there were always some loopholes that would have not made this day possible.
Many of these were obvious in our most important game against Brazil. The most significant in those two meetings was the fact that we failed to dominate them in the early part of the game only to recover with help from our opponent itself (BARBOSA & SPLITTER foul trouble and NENE’s injury).
Among the best thing for me in this tournament was the discovery of Roman GONZALEZ. For someone I had no idea before this, he was the one that caught my attention. Now I believe HERNANDEZ would want to keep his option viable considering the fact that others who occupy the center position are already in their prime 30’s (OBERTO is 33 and WOLKOWISKY is 35).

Pablo PRIGIONI did a great job and finished as the tournament top assist player but there were still plenty of turnover in his part. Surely HERNANDEZ would need to have PEPE in this role.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Carlos DELFINO enjoying his time on the court and I’m very happy to see him play the way he did. But then again I still feel he lacks the MANU factor that make this team chilling to watch. But he still has time on his side so we would see more of him in the future.

So what would the jury’s verdict be? Bring back our big names. No question about it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sunday recap

End of the road for Los Pibitos

After a solid first round and a great win over Costa Rica in the eight-finals, Nigeria were too much for our U17 National Team as we crashed out of the tournament with a 2-0 result. We are still without titles in this category, notoriously dominated by African teams and Brazil (who won't win it this time as they were eliminated by Ghana).

Mamma mia! Napoli are back for good in Serie A

After a 2-0 defeat at home to Cagliari in the first week of the Serie A season, Napoli had to visit Udinese at the Stadio Friuli and with the help of Roberto SOSA and Ezequiel LAVEZZI, the blue team destroyed the blue and white from Udine with a heavy 5-0 win.

Uruguayan Marcelo ZALAYETA scored a brace while LAVEZZI and SOSA scored one each. DOMIZZI also found the back of the net and Napoli secured their first three points of the season.

CHELA outplays LJUBICIC and advanced in New York

Juan Ignacio CHELA fought against one of the best players in the world and defeated him 6-4, 6-7, 2-6, 6-3 and 6-3 to advance to the eight-finals of the US Open. He'll face the winner of the match between GINEPRI and WAWRINKA.
David NALBANDIAN was in control but lost in five sets against Spaniard David FERRER. As I'm writing this, Juan MONACO is defeating Agustín CALLERI 2 sets to 0 and later tonight, Juan Martín DEL POTRO will face Serbian sensation DJOKOVIC.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

2007 FIBA Americas - See Y'All In Beijing 2008

Thanks Seba for the information. Yes!!! This will be without a doubt going to be one hell of a achievement for the Tall Albiceleste. All the uncertainty that was surrounding this team for the past 6-8 months is all over. Even I had my fair share doubt on how are we supposed to achieve this but now we can all finally say Hola Beijing 2008.

Once again standing between our way and glory was Brazil. They had their best players just how we were in the Copa America. Only this time the table has turn.
Just like the first meeting earlier in the tournament, Brazil dominated early on, shooting 60 percent (18 of 30) and held a 43-35 lead at the half. And just like the first meeting, Argentina came out of the locker room at the half with a sense of urgency and quickly wet on the offensive, outscoring Brazil 30-13 in the third quarter.

Luis SCOLA will take the deserve credit from all this as he posted 27 points, 9 rebounds & 2 assists. Another key factor in this game was Carlos DELFINO who posted 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists & 3 steals. Pablo PROGIONI was also an outstanding point guard throughout this tournament and Roman GONZALEZ also gave plenty of contribution.

DELFINO said “I think this group started to work as a team slowly. We got more confident during this tournament, and today we are qualified to go straight to the Olympics. Coming into this tournament, we knew the other top teams were the U.S., Brazil and Puerto Rico… the teams with bigger guys. I think that we showed everyone who questioned this team with this win and qualification”.

If there was once person who had faith in the team it has to be coach Sergio HERNANDEZ as he said “ I am extremely happy about this. We have played two tournaments of the same caliber and came out strong on both. Now we have just to be happy and look forward to our upcoming challenges. Hopefully we will go into the Olympic Games as strong as we entered and performed in this tournament. It has been a long tournament, and we are very tired too. Five months ago when we were putting this team together and GINOBILI and OBERTO said they could not participate, some people did not believe that this team could qualify Argentina for the Olympic Games… but we always knew we could do it, and we did it. I think this is a great day for us”.

Te veremos todo en Beijing 2008!!!


Tall Albicelestes to defend gold in Beijing 2008!

I just wanted to give you all the news. I'll leave the analysis of the tournament to John, as he's been doing a great job on keeping all of us updated.

We have defeated Brazil (with all their NBA stars -even though Nene HILARIO got injured early in the match-) and we have done it without our biggest names.

Congratulations to Sergio HERNANDEZ and to a team with a heart bigger than their chests!