Surprises from Hand of God

Argentine coach Maradona overlooks veterans Cambiasso, Zanetti

Surprises from Hand of God

Zanetti, a veteran of the 1998 and 2002 World cups, and Cambiasso, who helped Argentina reach the 2002 quarterfinals, are both key players in the Inter side that reached the Champions League final at the expense of holders Barcelona.

Coach Maradona, Argentina's former world title-winning captain, also overlooked Olympique Marseille midfielder Lucho Gonzalez, who played at the 2006 finals, and ball winner Fernando Gago of Real Madrid.

On the otDiego Maradonaher hand, he recalled Liverpool's Maxi Rodriguez, whom he had appeared to have discarded altogether during the qualifiers, and also found room for Newcastle United's Fabricio Coloccini.

Maradona, who has called up over 100 players during his year and a half in charge, sprang a surprise by picking several locally-based players who impressed him in the last friendly, a 4-0 home win over a weak Haiti side last week.

Colon defender Ariel Garce, who had won two caps in 2003 as a River Plate player, earned his inclusion on the basis of a good game in his third international appearance against the Haitians.

Midfielder Juan Mercier, who also won a third cap against Haiti, has been impressive for Argentine Clausura title favourites Argentinos Juniors.

Cambiasso, who has had a mere 15 minutes playing time under Maradona as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat by Spain in Madrid last November, had been part of a media clamour for inclusion due to his fine club form.

Inter central defender Walter Samuel, a veteran of the 2002 finals who missed out on Germany four years ago, is in the squad, as is Inter striker Diego Milito.

Boca Juniors' Martin Palermo was named, as expected, among seven strikers including the high-scoring European-based Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. Speaking before naming his squad, Maradona said he wanted Barcelona's Messi to roam freely and not be tied down tactically while he was building a good defensive platform from which to launch Argentina's game.

"I don't want him stationed on the (right touch) line...All the balls have to pass through him," Maradona told the TV channel Fox Sports in an interview recorded earlier on Tuesday.

"I'm going to defend with four centre backs, but I'm also going to have full backs available in case we need to improve coming out of defence," he said.

Two other Estudiantes players are in the squad, playmaker Juan Sebastian Veron and attacking midfielder Jose Sosa, who has been in fine form for the South American champions since returning on loan from Bayern Munich last year.

The squad: Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Diego Pozo (Colon). Defenders: Gabriel Heinze (Olympique Marseille), Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Nicolas Otamendi (Velez Sarsfield), Walter Samuel (Inter Milan), Juan Insaurralde (Newell's Old Boys), Clemente Rodriguez (Estudiantes de La Plata), Nicolas Burdisso (AS Roma), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United), Ariel Garce (Colon). Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle United), Angel Di Maria (Benfica), Mario Bolatti (Fiorentina), Juan Sebastian Veron, Jose Sosa (both Estudiantes de La Plata), Javier Pastore (Palermo), Jesus Datolo (Olympiakos), Juan Mercier (Argentinos Juniors), Sebastian Blanco (Lanus), Maxi Rodriguez (Liverpool). Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid), Carlos Tevez (Manchester City), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Diego Milito (Inter Milan), Martin Palermo (Boca Juniors), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli).

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