Japan drawn with Argentina in Copa America

LA PLATA - Guest team Japan will meet hosts Argentina in the Copa America next year while Uruguay and Mexico will repeat their 2010 World Cup group clash following Thursday's draw for the continental tournament.

Argentina, who like Uruguay have won a record 14 Copa America titles, will meet Bolivia in the opening match in La Plata on July 1 and also face Colombia in Group A.

Japan, taking part in the Conmebol organised South American Championship for the second time since 1999, beat coach Sergio Batista's Argentina 1-0 in a friendly in Saitama last month.

"To play in our country is an extra pressure but we will prepare to beat the three group rivals and above all to win the Copa America," Batista, who took over as manager from Diego Maradona after this year's World Cup, told reporters.

Holders Brazil, hosts of the 2014 World Cup, were seeded in Group B where they face Paraguay, Ecuador and Venezuela.

A colourful draw ceremony, hosted by Argentina's penalty-saving 1990 World Cup keeper Sergio Goycochea, featured folk music and dancing from the 12 participating countries.

Uruguay, who beat Mexico 1-0 on their way to the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa, were seeded in Group C where they will also meet Chile and Peru.

Peru's Uruguayan coach Sergio Markarian told reporters: "This is a nice, balanced group... It's a good opportunity to recover the level that Peruvian football needs, to recover some prestige."

Peru, who also played in a Mendoza-based group at the 1978 World Cup, appointed the experienced Markarian after years of poor results including finishing bottom of the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.


Mexico, again invited to play from the Concacaf region, have been regular guests at the Copa America since their 1993 debut in Ecuador and have reached the final twice.

Mexico's Jose Manuel de la Torre, among the majority of coaches facing their first major tournament at the Copa America having taken over after the World Cup, said:

"I think Mexico can seek revenge for many things, by this I mean that in a way we need victories and achievements."

Group C, widely considered the toughest, will be based in the western Andean provinces of Mendoza and San Juan, noted for their wine production.

Chile, despite not being seeded, were guaranteed a place in the group with Mendoza situated just across the Andean mountains from the Chilean capital Santiago.

The teams in groups A and B will rotate through five other stadiums - two in the northwestern provinces of Jujuy and Salta, two in central Cordoba and Santa Fe and the Ciudad de La Plata in the capital of Buenos Aires province.

The July 24 final will be the only match hosted at River Plate's Monumental, which is Argentina's national stadium.