Round 3: Maureen on, Ponce off

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"Right then, muchachos, our work here is done!"

High fives aplenty at AFA HQ last week, where the latest Argentina squad list had been discussed, thought through, agreed upon, typed up and duly sent out to all the necessary people.

Fast-forward 40 minutes.

"Boss, there’s a problem. Estudiantes are talking about some Libertadores match, whatever that is! Anyway, they say it's important and they need their four players."

"Bugger. Oh well, take those players off the list. There are plenty more to choose from. Tell you what, I like the look of that Pereyra guy. See the boot in the face he got the other day?! That’s what I want in my team. Huevos. Put Pereyra in."

Fast-forward 80 minutes.

"Boss, there.’s another problem. Pereyra had an operation yesterday. He’s out till February."

That ‘boot’ the other day had, in fact, broken Pereyra’s nose.

"B*ll*cks! Fine, give that new guy at Racing a call. That’ll do it."

It’s roughly along those lines Argie Bargy imagines the fine-tuning of the Argentina squad list happened last week.

A total of five players were named and then dropped from the list, leading to an apology from respected voices in the press for not seeing the genius in the latest chaotic episode, and that in fact it was the rest of the country that was wrong and didn’t understand.

Calling up those players, then dropping them, was ALL PART OF THE MASTERPLAN!!

Argentina play Jamaica this Wednesday in one of Maradona’s final opportunities to see players from the Argentine league.

In ‘fine-tuning’ his team since taking over coach, he has now hit 102 on the Call -Up Counter.

One guide to the Clausura 2010 points out there are 600 players ‘hopeful’ of making the squad for South Africa.

There isn’t time between now and the World Cup to give them all a run-out, but that won’t stop Maradona from trying and the players here in Argentina dreaming of making the final 23.

After Round 3, in which a guy named Maureen replaced a guy surnamed Ponce, in which Estudiantes gave San Lorenzo a ‘conceptual thrashing’, in which the big five are still horrendous, in which Argentinos Juniors beat Lanús for the first time in 15 years and won 6-3, here’s a quick guide to those performances which will get Diego nodding or shaking his head…


Martín Palermo – The man who famously missed three penalties in a single match for his country had to retake his spot-kick against Newell’s, but his nerve didn’t fail him this time. Goal number 206 with Boca for Saint Martin, and his third in three games this season.

Lucas Viatri – Palermo’s much-touted successor at Boca hit a thunderbolt against Newell’s.

Franco Jara – Goals, assists and general brilliance this weekend from the man already sold to Benfica for next season. The Arse, as the Argentine Arsenal are referred to, will miss Mr Jara next year.

Juan Sebastián Verón – Playground stuff from Verón in his goal this weekend – knocking it past Botinelli and running round the other side of him to collect the ball, then blasting it home for a golazo.


Pato Abbondanzieri – There may be a Latin American tradition of goalscoring goalkeepers but Abbondanzieri stuck to assists against Newell’s. The problem was his assist was for Newell’s fourth goal. The third (16 minutes after the first) was a caño - nuteg to you and me. Not the keeper’s finest hour and half.

Gabriel Paletta – Abbondanzieri’s partner in crime at the back, Paletta was awarded a 2/10 rating which, together with a red card, is all the analysis we need.

Roberto Ayala – The Mouse was meant to shore up the Academy’s defence, and his debut against misfiring (or not-firing-at-all) Arsenal should have been a walk in the park. Burruchaga’s men promptly put four past Racing. It’s fair to say Ayala didn’t come out of the game too well.

Ariel Ortega – If there’s a wagon in sight, Ortega is likely to fall off it. He rocked up several hours late at the team hotel, after another fall, and was dropped from the squad to face Central. The Little Donkey’s career could be drawing to a close after crisis talks at River were held on Monday.

The weekend's goals, with necessarily bad soundtrack, here. Enjoy!

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