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Messi, Mascherano to pick Argentina’s team

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Argentina’s forward Lionel Messi (R) attends a training session at the team’s base camp in Bronnitsy, near Moscow, Russia on June 24, 2018 ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match against Nigeria to be held in Saint Petersbourg on June 26.
Messi who is born on June 24, 1987, turns 31 today. / AFP PHOTO

Lionel Messi and his fellow players will now pick the team who will face Nigeria in a crunch World Cup D match Tuesday night after coach Jorge Sampaoli was demoted by that countries football authorities, according to media reports.

Argentina have had a poor start to the World Cup in Russia and will be eliminated should they fail to beat the Super Eagles on Tuesday night in Saint Petersburg.

Argentina’s 1986 World Cup winner Ricardo Giusti has claimed that he has spoken to AFA general manager Jorge Burruchaga, who has admitted that the players would be consulted for the Nigeria game.

Giusti said: “The players will decide the team, that’s a fact. If Sampaoli wants to sit in the bench, he can do it. If not, no problem.”

Sampaoli was reported to be in talks with Argentina FA president Claudio Tapia late on Saturday night but looked like keeping his job, though having to take account of the players’ concerns.

Messi and Javier Mascherano, as the senior players, would be most likely to be consulted to revive the campaign, with Argentina needing a win over Nigeria to take second place in the group, assuming that Iceland don’t beat Croatia and better Argentina’s goal difference.


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