WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Carlos Tevez may have played his last game with the Argentine national soccer team for quite some time.
The fallout between the elite striker and his country’s soccer federation continued this week as La Albiceleste Coach Sergio Batista said Tevez won’t be playing for the national team at Copa América, which Argentina hosts, beginning on July 1.
“My number nine is Lionel Messi,” Batista said, according to The Associated Press. “There are no discarded players but if you ask about Tevez … we have Messi in that position.”
Batista added that no player has been eliminated from making the roster that will compete in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
But the tension between Tevez and his country’s soccer federation has not stopped him from having a terrific season for Manchester City of the English Premier League.
Tevez guided City to its first Champion’s League berth last week. He scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Stoke City on May 17. This season, Tevez has 19 Premier League goals, two behind league leader Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United.
Batista is expected to make the final cuts to his 22-man roster for Copa América during the next month. Argentina is expected to field a team of mostly reserves for three friendlies next month: against Nigeria in Abuja on June 1; versus Poland in Warsaw on June 5; and against Albania at the River Plate’s Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires on June 20.
Brazil’s Neymar starring for Santos
Brazilian soccer’s youngest star is starting to shine.
Neymar, a 19-year-old attacking phenom scored a goal for Santos in a 2-1 win over rival Corinthians to claim the club’s second-straight São Paulo state championship on May 15.
It was Santos’ 19th state title overall and fourth in the past six seasons.
The teams played to a scoreless draw in the first leg earlier this month.
“Three titles in three years as a professional, that means a lot to me, I’m moved,” Neymar, who led Brazil to a U-20 South American title earlier this year, said at a media conference.
But there is still work left to do for Neymar and Santos.
The Brazilian club is the country’s only side left in the Copa Libertadores. In the quarterfinals, Santos notched a 1-0 win over Colombia’s Once Caldas in the first leg and hosts the return match on May 18.
Santos also touts dynamic Brazilian attacker Elano and midfielder Ganso, who was poised for a breakout season before the 21-year-old suffered a leg injury last week that will sideline him the next few weeks.
But Santos Coach Muricy Ramalho said the team still has plenty of talent to win Copa Libertadores.
“We gave the players a little more confidence and made the defense more solid,” said Ramalho, according to The Associated Press. “With the players we have on offense, we know they will make a difference if we can hold our ground on defense.”
Internacional, based in Porto Alegre, Brazil, won Copa Libertadores last year after defeating Mexico’s Guadalajara in the final.
Maradona gets new home
Diego Maradona is again taking his legendary talents across the Atlantic Ocean.
But this time it will be the Middle East, not Europe, and as a coach, not a player.
The Argentine icon agreed to a two-year deal this week to coach Dubai-based club Al-Wasl next season.
Maradona, 50, was fired as Argentina’s national team coach after La Albiceleste lost to Germany in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in South Africa.
“Al-Wasl Sports Club is proud to announce the appointment of Diego Armando Maradona as head coach of Al-Wasl Football Club, in a momentous development that will see the football legend lead the team for the next two seasons,” the club said in a statement.
Al-Wasl is in fourth place in the top flight of the United Arab Emirates and 16-points behind first-place Al-Jazira.
The team last won a domestic cup in 2007 and claimed the Gulf Champions Cup in 2010.
“Al-Wasl Sports Club has become synonymous with achievements of this caliber, and we are very pleased to be welcoming Maradona to a long line of accolades in the club’s history,” said Club Chairman Marwan Bin Bayat, according to Agence France-Presse. “This partnership embodies the vision of the club as it embraces forward thinking developments in the region to establish unprecedented standards for the sport.”
Colombia mourns death of Sergio Rodríguez Jaramillo
Sergio Rodríguez Jaramillo, a Colombian sports official, was fatally shot in Medellín on May 13.
Rodríguez Jaramillo was shot by gunmen while he was in a car with a guide. He was transported to Medellín General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Officials are still searching for the shooters and a motive for the shooting.
Rodríguez Jaramillo is best known for helping to organize the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba, and representing his country’s Olympic Committee at the 2008 Beijing Games. He also supervised the 2010 South American Games in Medellín and served as president of the Pan American Squash Federation.
“[Jamarillo] was a good person, very special and highly appreciated in the Municipal administration and business and sports areas.” Juan Felipe Palau Ángel, secretary of the government of Medellín, said in a statement.