Messi heads Argentina squad for World Cup qualifiers

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Buenos Aires, March 4 (IANS) Five-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi will lead a 26-member Argentina football squad for their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Bolivia later this month.

Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero, Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria and Messi’s Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano were also named by Albiceleste coach Edgardo Bauza on Friday, reports Xinhua news agency.

But there was no place for Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi, who has scored 16 goals in 25 matches for the Serie A heavyweights this season.

Estudiantes goalkeeper Mariano Andujar and Racing Club midfielder Marcos Acuna were the only Argentina-based players named in the squad.

Argentina will host Chile in Buenos Aires on March 23 followed by an away clash with Bolivia five days later.

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Bauza’s team is currently fifth in the South American zone qualifying standings for the 2018 World Cup.

The top four teams at the end of the qualifying period will book an automatic spot in the tournament in Russia while the fifth-ranked team will earn a playoff berth.



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