Argentina squad for Catalunya clash

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina coach Diego Maradona named Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid attacker Sergio Aguero in a squad for a friendly he is banned from taking part in.

Argentina will play in Barcelona on December 22 against the region of Catalunya, who are coached by Johan Cruyff.

Maradona was banned by FIFA for two months in mid-November for insults directed at reporters after his team secured their place in the 2010 World Cup finals against Uruguay in Montevideo last month.

He apologised to FIFA at a hearing on November 15, the day after Argentina lost 2-1 to Spain in Madrid in the Spanish Football Federation's centenary match.

His assistants, and former international team mates, Alejandro Mancuso and Hector Enrique, will be on the bench for the match.

Maradona is also banned from the World Cup draw in Cape Town on December 4.

The squad, posted on the Argentine Football Association's website, includes a first call up for midfielder Cristian Alvarez, who plays for Argentina's Arsenal.

Goalkeepers: Diego Pozo (Colon-Santa Fe), Mariano Andujar (Catania)

Defenders: Nicolas Pareja (Espanyol), Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Nicolas Otamendi (Velez Sarsfield), Cristian Ansaldi (Rubin Kazan)

Midfielders: Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Maximiliano Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Jesus Datolo (Napoli), Angel Di Maria, Pablo Aimar (both Benfica), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Mario Bolatti (Huracan), Cristian Alvarez (Arsenal, Argentina)

Forwards: Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Martin Palermo (Boca Juniors), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli)