SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – If Uruguay is to continue its strong start in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, it must do so without Diego Forlán.
The dynamic striker is sidelined for the immediate future with a muscle tear in his left leg he suffered last month in a 1-1 draw against Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier. Forlán, the reigning World Cup Most Valuable Player, guided La Celeste to a Copa América title in July but will serve as little more than a cheerleader during the next few months.
“I felt strong pain in my leg and I had to stop playing, now we have to see what the doctors say,” Forlán told reporters. “I do not know what the problem is yet, but I just couldn’t continue playing. We have to wait.”
Further tests back with his club team Inter Milan revealed the muscle strain, and he has been sidelined since.
But Forlán isn’t the only loss for coach Óscar Wáshington Tabárez’s squad.
Uruguay also will be without the services of star forward Maxi Pereira, who will miss the upcoming match against Chile at home on Nov. 11. That World Cup qualifier is followed four days later with a friendly against Italy. Tabárez had the option of selecting Pereira for the friendly, but opted to let him stay with his club team Benfica.
Tabárez’s squad for the pair of games in the upcoming weeks is comprised entirely of players playing internationally.
The goalkeepers for the squad include Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Juan Castillo (Colo Colo) and Martín Silva (Olimpia).
The defenders are Diego Lugano (Paris Saint Germain), Diego Godín (Atlético Madrid), Andrés Scotti (Colo Colo), Mauricio Victorino (Cruzeiro), Jorge Fucile (Porto), Sebastián Coates (Liverpool) and Martín Cáceres (Sevilla).
The midfielders are Álvaro Fernández (Seattle), Álvaro Pereira (Porto), Diego Pérez (Bologna), Sebastián Eguren (Sporting Gijón), Gastón Ramírez (Bologna), Egidio Arévalo Rios (Tijuana), Walter Gargano (Napoli), Nicolás Lodeiro (Ajax) and Cristian Rodríguez (Porto).
The strikers feature Luís Suárez (Liverpool), Sebastián Fernández (Málaga), Edinson Cavani (Napoli), Sebastián Abreu (Botafogo) and Abel Hernández (Palermo).
Argentina wins gold in men’s field hockey
Argentina is back to its winning ways.
The men’s field hockey game rallied from a goal down to beat rival Canada, 3-1, in the gold medal game of the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, earning the squad a berth in the 2012 Olympics in London.
The victory marked Argentina’s eighth gold medal in the sport at the Pan America Games, which has held 12 tournaments since the game’s inception in 1967.
The match was also the 10th time Argentina and Canada met in the final, with Argentina winning six times. Canada defeated Argentina in the gold medal game at Pan American Games in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Argentina fell behind late in the first half before knotting the score just before intermission. In the second half, the Argentines dominated play and scored a pair of goals to seize momentum and cruise to victory.
“That goal stunned us a bit because Canada always plays like that (on the counter-attack) and put one in, but we were calm and knew we could turn it around,” Argentine midfielder Matías Paredes told reporters.
The games, which are held every four years in a different country in the Americas, feature 36 events and 8,500 athletes from 42 countries. The top Latin American countries at the games were Brazil (141 medals), Cuba (136), Mexico (133), Colombia (84) and Argentina (75).
Colombia loses star player
Cristián Zapata won’t be seeing the field anytime soon.
The star Colombian defender suffered a right knee injury with his Spanish club team Villarreal during a 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano last weekend. As a result, he will be sidelined for at least a handful of World Cup qualifiers during the next several weeks.
Zapata reportedly complained about pain in his knee after playing a full 90 minutes against the La Liga rival. Doctors initially diagnosed the injury as sore muscles, but additional testing revealed Zapata had strained ligaments.
Colombia will sorely miss Zapata as the squad gears up for a World Cup qualifier against Venezuela on Nov. 11 before traveling for a qualifying match against Argentina just four days later.
The squad opened qualifying with a 2-1 win over struggling Bolivia but must be even better to get a maximum six points from its next two games.
“Still, with nine teams in the group it’s going to be very, very tough,” Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina told reporters. “Without Brazil, the other sides will see it as their chance to reach the World Cup. It will be a long and difficult journey, because there are so many good South American players who compete in Europe.”
Will Argentina’s Lionel Messi win a third straight FIFA Ballon d’Or?
Argentine superstar Lionel Messi joins seven players from Spain’s 2010 World Cup championship team among the 23 finalists for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or award, given annually to the world player of the year.
Players from 10 different countries made the list, with Spain, Uruguay, Germany, Argentina, France and Brazil each boasting two or more nominees.
Messi, 24, is considered a favorite to win the award for a third straight year, but Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo also has had a tremendous year for Real Madrid, the main rival to Messi’s FC Barcelona in Spain’s La Liga.
But Spaniards dominated the list of nominees, led by Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Madrid teammate and fellow award finalist Mesut Özil of Germany said Casillas and Ronaldo have a good shot at the award.
“Casillas has been the best goalkeeper in the world for many years and I would give him the award,” he said. “Ronaldo has a great chance and has a real desire to win it.”
In Brazil, Santos’ officials told reporters Nov. 1 they are looking for an international marketing agency to boost Neymar’s image.
Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o, a striker for Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, was the sole African player represented and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was the only Englishman to make the list.
FIFA will announce three finalists on Dec. 5 and the winner will be named on Jan. 9, 2012, at the Zurich Kongresshaus in Switzerland.
The full list of the 23 players is: Sergio Agüero and Messi of Argentina; Dani Alves and Neymar of Brazil; Eto’o of Cameroon; Rooney of England; Éric Abidal and Karim Benzema of France; Thomas Müller, Özil and Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany; Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands; Ronaldo and Nani of Portugal; Casillas, Cesc Fàbregas, Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Pique, David Villa, Xabi Alonso and Xavi of Spain; Diego Forlán and Luis Suárez of Uruguay.