Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The road to Beijing starts in Los Angeles

I don't know if it's just me but everytime I think of our Olympic football national team I've got only one image. One memory. The memory of one of the goals I celebrated the most in recent years.

We were playing Uruguay. It was 0-0. Boring. Really boring match. With that result, we had enough to make it to the U20 World Cup in Canada (which we eventually won thanks to KUN, Maxi MORALEZ and company). But we were falling short of our biggest goal. We were seconds away from not being able to defend our Athens gold medal near the Great Wall.

So Lautaro ACOSTA (U20 World Cup Champion and Torneo Apertura champion with Lanús) jumped higher than everyone else to send it home with that head full of curly hair and to send me into a state of complete madness! Remember I was living in Brazil! I surely woke up the entire building and I just couldn't stop. I'll thank Lautaro forever and I'll never forget that moment.

You can say that was when the Road to Beijing really started. With a ticket won by U20's for a tournament that will eventually be played by U23's (with three over-aged players). But this Wednesday's friendly match against Guatemala in LA is certainly going to be played by a team that will look pretty much like the one Sergio BATISTA will bring to Beijing in August.

BATISTA himself had no idea he was going to manage these players by the time ACOSTA scored that goal.

One thing we know for sure is that he is a motivated man. "This match against Guatemala will be like the World Cup final of 86 against Germany for me", exagerated Mr. Checho but he made his point.

Three over-aged players. Three regular first-team players for Coco's big boys. Martín DEMICHELIS, Javier MASCHERANO and Juan Roman RIQUELME. It'll be their duty to lead their younger team-mates and to teach them a trick or two in the process.

There's no secret that U23's are no longer what they used to be. I remember when growing up, the majority of the footballers taking part of the Olympic tournament were complete and absolute unknown people. They were there to gain some experience and hopefully attract the attention of big clubs willing to bring them over.

Now even the U17's have signed professional contracts and some of them are first team regulars with at least 50 matches under their belts.

So the Olympic tournament is more competitive than ever and you need to bring your best men to the party.


This time around, BATISTA wanted to have all the stars he could possibly call. He knew from the start he was not going to have MESSI (understanding he is just coming back from injury and knowing that calling him was probably not the best thing to do). But, like a little boy who knows he's behave superbly during the year, he wrote Santa a letter asking for all the other top toys he knows.

And when the album was almost complete, he found out that Kun AGÜERO, Fernando GAGO, Ezequiel GARAY where the elusive figures and he had to make do without them.

Still, BATISTA looks to be very happy with what he got out of the letter he wrote. On paper, the team to face Guatemala looks promising (to say the least).

Solid in every line. But let's take a look at how the team will probably start the match:

Oscar USTARI will be the goalkeeper (Sergio ROMERO -U20 WC in Canada- will wait in the bench)

ZABALETA (right) and ESCUDERO (left) will be the full-backs, while Martín DEMICHELIS and Federico FAZIO (Sevilla) will play in the centre of the back four.

There's be a pair of holding midfielders in Ever BANEGA and Javier MASCHERANO (I'm thinking how many team will present a stronger pair in the Olympics -and you have to have in mind that BANEGA will play only because GAGO is injured-).

RIQUELME will have a free role and will move mostly in the centre while José SOSA (former Estudiantes de La Plata, now at Bayern Munich) and Gonzalo HIGUAIN will move on the flanks, feeding up Napoli's Ezequiel LAVEZZI who will play up front.

What do you think of that? Pretty strong, I must admit!

BATISTA tried to call up Maxi MORALEZ and Claudio YACOB (both of Racing Club, now that MORALEZ will officially return to Avellaneda -much to my incredible joy!-), but he failed to bring them to LA because the pair didn't have a visa to enter the USA.


At the beginning it was for research. Then communications took over and all you wanted to do was to chat and to read and write e-mails. Then porn became king (some might say it still is! haha!) and e-business and online gaming and plenty of other things. But I dare to say we are officially living in the era of football (and sports in general) broadcast through the internet.

How cool is to watch virtually every match from every country from anywhere like you can do these days?

Well...I may have to eat my words here as there is no confirmation (to my knowledge) of an online broadcast of Guatemala v Argentina.

My source for online football broadcastings (and highly recommendable) still has no link to the match but it promises they will. So here's hoping we'll be able to get it.

Here's the link to their site (make sure you download the software you need -SopCast, TVU, TVAnts, etc.-): http://myp2p.eu/broadcast.php?matchid=5767&part=sports

Another good source for live football has it listed, but still no information on the link. You may want to check here: http://rojadirecta.com/foros/viewtopic.php?t=34684

I will of course post here if I find a link to that commentary and I kindly ask all readers to feel free to post in the comments section if you happen to find one.

Vamos Argentina!


Roy said...

It shall be an interesting match. Really excited to see Ustari between the sticks because I think Abbondanzieri's time is done and we need to look ahead(not only to Beijing) but to 2010. I also don't think we can judge him on his performance versus Norway, so this will be his first "real" test, in my opinion anyways. I'm reallllly looking forward to seeing what Zabaleta and Banega can do with the NT. And glad to see Higuain get the call.

As for watching it, I always use this site for a schedule(it shows which channels are airing what).


And so far it has PPV and I'm guessing that's how I'm going to watch it. Sorry, that's all I can find.

Adn a quick note for people on the eastern time zone, the match starts at 10:30PM. So it's pretty late.

John said...

Seba, I have to admit that our team looks very much strong than ever.

Despite of all the injuries, just look at the names we have. That speaks louder than words.

Got to agree with Roy on USTARI. His time has come and what better place if not in Beijing.

I would not drop BANEGA for GAGO simply because BANEGA plays more regularly for Valencia.

At this moment, I don't think LEVAZZI will start in Beijing as it is going to be very hard for BATISTA to ignore the prospect of seeing both MESSI and KUN up front. So I do hope he gives a great impression for this game.

Now if only DI SANTO gets the hell out of Chelsea....

Seba said...

Cheers for that info, Roy! You think 10:30 PM is late? Think it'll be 1:30 AM in Buenos Aires and you'll be shocked!

Weekday? 1:30 AM? What were they thinking? Clearly they don't care whether people will be able to watch their national team here!

I will. But I doubt there'll be many more watching...

Let's keep faith on finding a live stream so all of us can watch. I'm lucking in that sense because it'll be shown on Argentine regular cable TV and I have it.

And now I'm thinking it'll be a great kick-off time for our fans in Asia! Isn't it?

A clear contrast with those in Europe (it'll start at 3:30 UK, 4:30 Madrid/Rome/Paris)

Seba said...

Latest news?

MARADONA couldn't keep his mouth shut (for a change!) and after denying having apologized to English fans for that "Hand of God" goal, he now says: "I was expecting the AFA to put me in charge of the Olympic football National Team. That was a team for me to manage. I wanted to go to the Olympics, but it looks like I'm in none of the AFA's lists".

Batigol said...

Hi guys,

I feel its right time to bring Maradona. I rather gamble him in the Olympics rather than in World Cup.
Like it or not even Klinsmann has proven his capability even without exprience in coaching major club.
My BIG Q is Y not ??

John said...

Seba, I believe the match will shown around 10.30 am.

However the other day, a local newspaper stated 11.30 am!!!

So I'm not sure about anything at the moment. Will need to check and see.

But certainly time is not an issue here, as long it doesn't clash with our other commitment.

Batigol said...

For the info,

When is our next qualification game???

Beside, this friendly game Coco is in charge or the other coach??

John said...

Batigol, this friendly involves the under-23 team so Sergio BATISTA is in charge.

Our next WC qualification will be on June 14th against Ecuador. Four days later against Brazil.