BUENOS AIRES - A row over visiting fans and the use of a player registered with another club have aggravated an old rivalry in the Libertadores Cup between Uruguay's Nacional and Estudiantes of Argentina. Nacional have protested to tournament organisers Conmebol over Estudiantes's emergency signing this week of Newell's Old Boys centre back Rolando Schiavi for their semi-final and, if they get through, the final. A string of injuries to defenders have left Estudiantes, who host Nacional in La Plata on Thursday in the first leg of their semi-final, depleted at the back. The lanky 36-year-old Schiavi, who won the Libertadores Cup with Boca Juniors in 2003, obtained Newell's agreement to help Estudiantes out for $100,000 and the La Plata club believe they have done everything by the book. Nacional say it is a case of "sporting inequality", club director Alejandro Babli told El Pais newspaper in Montevideo, arguing they could also recruit reinforcements for the short term from clubs no longer involved in a title race. The clubs from neighbouring capitals across the River Plate have also settled on not providing tickets for visiting fans after a row about the number each would give to the other club. Once play begins the teams, who met in the 1969 and 1971 finals with a victory each, will be looking to continue their quest for a third title. Estudiantes, now captained by Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, were champions from 1968 to 1970 when his father Juan Ramon, was their outstanding player. Veron's no-stop running and probing from all parts of midfield will be a key to unlocking the defence of Nacional who are unbeaten in the competition. Nacional, who also lifted the trophy in 1980 and 1988, have a smattering of Argentines in their squad including free kick specialist Federico Dominguez. The other semi-final is an all Brazilian clash between Cruzeiro and Gremio.
24 June 2009
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