Sabella: Argentina door open for Tevez

KOLKATA - Carlos Tevez's lack of fitness cost him a place in the Argentina squad for the friendlies in Asia but the national team's door is very much open for the Manchester City striker, coach Alejandro Sabella said on Wednesday.

Addressing the media ahead of Friday's friendly against Venezuela in Kolkata, his first match since taking charge last month, Sabella said he was ready to consider a fitter Tevez.

"All quality players are welcome in the team. When I picked the squad, Tevez was not playing for Manchester City and gained weight," Sabella said.

"Good players like him are always in my plans."

Tevez, who has made no secret of his desire to leave City, has fallen down the pecking order at the club with the arrival of compatriot Sergio Aguero and has yet to start a game this season.

Sabella, who took charge after predecessor Sergio Batista failed to guide Argentina beyond the quarter-finals of the Copa America, is aware of how important it will be for him to get off to a winning start as coach.

"Football in Argentina is a passion and I know there is a lot of expectation. It's my first game in command of the team," said Sabella, whose side play Nigeria in a friendly on Sept. 6 in Dhaka.

"It's very important to make a good beginning. Winning will give us confidence."

He said he was looking forward to building a great understanding with captain Lionel Messi, who will lead the side in the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup finals.

Nearly 2000 delirious fans had gathered outside the airport in the early hours of Wednesday just to see World Player of the Year Messi and other players being whisked away to a Kolkata hotel.