The winners of at least one event in the 2008 Beijing Olympics may as well be handed their medals now. Argentina will surely be successful in their defence of the title they won in Athens four years ago, because it was confirmed on Tuesday that Barcelona will allow Lionel Messi to join the squad. Elsewhere Julio Comparada’s pronounced himself pleased with an Independiente manager, for a change, and Racing lurch from one embarrassment to another after confrontations with the fans during a training session.
‘I want to travel [to Beijing] so I can work with the first-team and also with the Under-23s,’ explained Messi. ‘I’ve got it all agreed with Barça to go to Beijing.’ Messi’s inclusion in addition to talents like Sergio Agüero and Ezequiel Lavezzi will give Argentina a formidable attack only made stronger by the presence of Juan Román Riquelme as one of the three over-aged players in the squad. Ivory Coast, Australia and Serbia – who will be Argentina’s group opponents – will probably be starting to sweat a little more now.
Independiente president Julio Comparada, meanwhile, has been telling people how delighted he is with Claudio Borghi as his club’s new manager. Which is just as well given the manner in which he got rid of Pedro Troglio. Borghi made his debut as Rojo manager at the weekend and his new side won the clásico with San Lorenzo, 1-0. He went on to claim that, if Independiente – now just four points off the top of the table – were challenging for the title, Troglio himself must take at least some of the credit. ‘I can’t pay three trophy bonuses,’ Comparada jokingly replied, referring to Troglio, Borghi and caretaker Pepé Santoro. But, ‘to have Borghi at Independiente – in Argentina – is fantastic. He gives a jump in the quality of our football. What he managed against San Lorenzo, with only four days of preparation, shows what we’re working towards.’
No such optimism at Independiente’s rivals Racing, where a fan, Mauro Paidón, watching the training session on Monday and, incensed at seeing the players laughing and joking in apparently good spirits, confronted them, shouting; ‘What are you laughing at?! You’re going take us down to the B [Nacional]!’
‘Cáceres told me that if I insulted them, I wasn’t a fan of Racing,’ Paidón later told the press. ‘Then, Sosa told me to do one.’ As he got into his car, two plastic bottles of Powerade were launched over the fence in his direction, one falling on the street and the other close by him. ‘They were full… I had my back to them, so I didn’t see which players threw them,’ continued Paidón. It’s another incident in a period which goes from bad to worse for Racing. And with Independiente looking on the up, it must be even more painful for their fans.