Diego keeps the world waiting before unleashing axe on Cambiasso and Zanetti

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‘In minutes,’ announced the homepage of the crashed AFA website, ‘the list of the 30 Argentine players will be available.’

The statement was like one of those building site billboards that informs you that the work will be completed in 22 months, but doesn’t tell you when they started. It was there for hours.

One tweeter announced the list would be up in seconds, but their optimism was misguided - the small print below read ‘about an hour ago via web.’

Tuesday was a marathon of gossip and rumour-mongering about who would and who wouldn’t make the list.

Due out at 3pm, it wasn’t till gone 7 pm that the world finally discovered that messrs Zanetti, Cambiasso, Lucho González, Lisandro López, Gago, Gabi Milito and Pablo Aimar would not be going to the World Cup.

NEWS: Zanetti out of Argentina squad

Instead, names such as Garcé, Insuarralde, Mercier and Blanco were included. For now, it isn’t worth delving too deep into an evaluation of the squad - at least not until the final cut to 23 is made – as the four mentioned above are all strong candidates to not make the final draft.

And despite headline-grabbing big names missing out, the starting XI to face Nigeria in Argentina’s first World Cup game hasn’t changed at all with this squad selection.
But as usual, nothing was simple. In fact, it was chaos.

Journalists complained about the mosquitoes at the national team training camp as they stood around waiting for news. Excited bloggers from around the world complained about various duties such as sleep, food and exams that they were putting off to find out the last 30.

Maradona drove past the hordes of journalists when he arrived at the national team HQ, only to wind down his window to breezily announce that it was all sorted, no worries! AFA then took four hours longer than expected to let us all know.

It was hard not to compare how Brazil did their business just hours before – a no-nonsense final 23-man squad was named, followed by a sincere press conference from Dunga who defended his selection.

While the build up to the announcement in Brazil saw the president, priests, World Cup winning legends and current team mates all trying to convince the Brazilian coach to call up the latest Santos wunderkid Neymar, or the errant striker Adriano, in Argentina the build up was slightly different.

"For the last time - yes, I know what I'm doing..."

Step forward Humbertito and Alfito. Little Humbert and Alfie.

The former is one of AFA president Don Julio Humberto Grondona’s sons. The latter, also named by his Dad after his Dad, is the son of Alfio Basile, Maradona’s predecessor as national team coach.

First up is Humbertito, who said that ‘if you attack my dad, I’ll stamp you out.’ Why the aggression? Maradona was upset at a friendly in Dubai being cancelled, the reasons for which verge into the predictably libellous arena of speculation and rumour, so we’ll leave it there.

Alfito, meanwhile, claimed that Maradona lead a plot to overthrow Alfio Basile as coach. ‘At the next World Cup, Argentina will be lead by a conspirator,’ tweeted Alfito. Various members of Basile’s backroom staff came out supporting Alfito’s accusations, stating they were ‘common knowledge in the football world’.

In an untypical response to Alfito, Maradona wrote a letter that was published in the local media, remembering the times he helped out Basile senior, and would never do anything like that to a man he respected. To Humbertito, much like the rest of the Argentine population, he paid little attention. ‘I only talk to the circus leader,’ said Diego.

In brushing off Humbertito’s threat, Maradona hit home with his description of the situation – a circus.

The only reason we are not talking about the serious allegations from Alfito Basile today, or the on-going feud with the Grondonas, is the farce that surrounded the naming of the provisional 30-man squad, and the big-name absentees.

Doubts around who would replace Mascherano or Verón – in particular – remain after naming the squad. But as Maradona happily explained in an interview aired after the squad was announced, he has a clear idea of how his team will play at the World Cup.

Like the troublesome qualifiers, if Argentina do well in South Africa none of this will matter and will all be forgotten. If they don’t, there’ll be plenty of people queuing up with their own take on what went wrong…

Provisional 30-man squad

Keepers: Sergio Romero (Az Alkmaar), Mariano Andújar (Catania), Diego Pozo (Colón)

Defenders: Nicolás Burdisso (Roma), Ariel Garcé (Colón), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle), Martín Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Gabriel Heinze (Olympique Marseille), Juan Manuel Insaurralde (Newell's), Nicolás Otamendi (Vélez), Clemente Rodríguez (Estudiantes), Walter Samuel (Inter).

Midfielders: Sebastián Blanco (Lanús), Mario Bolatti (Fiorentina), Jesús Dátolo (Nápoli), Angel Di María (Benfica), Jonás Gutiérrez (Newcastle), Javier Macherano (Liverpool), Juan Mercier (Argentinos Juniors), Javier Pastore (Huracán), Maxi Rodríguez (Liverpool), José Sosa (Estudiantes), Juan Sebastián Verón (Estudiantes).

Forwards: Gonzalo Higuaín (Real Madrid), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Nápoli), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Diego Milito (Inter), Martín Palermo (Boca), Carlos Tevez (Manchester City), Sergio Agüero (Atlético Madrid).