Only a quick news update here: there have been a few late call-ups by Diego Maradona for the Argentine national team as they prepare for their World Cup qualifiers at home to Brazil (in Rosario, on Saturday) and away to Paraguay (in Asunción next week). This was expected because Maradona left the door open for some more locally-based players to be included when he named the original squad last week. There’s one surprise among them, though: a certain Martín Palermo.
As Palermo creeps ever closer towards Roberto Cherro’s all-time goalscoring record for Boca Juniors, there have been some calling for him to be included in the selección for a while now, and he’s got his chance again, along with Newell’s Old Boys defender Rolando Schiavi (an important part of Estudiantes’ Copa Libertadores-winning side as an emergency loanee for their final three matches of that campaign to cover for injury) and Estudiantes’ own Rodrigo Braña.
‘We’re adding Schiavi, Braña and Palermo to the squad. All three of them have done fantastic work and that’s why we’re calling them,’ Maradona told Radio Rivadavia as their presenters presumably bit their tongues as to why the bloody hell Gonzalo Higuaín doesn’t get in the squad then, and for that matter why Gabriel Heinze is there every time.
Sebastián Battaglia, injured at half time of Boca’s weekend win over Lanús, is withdrawn from the squad but Juan Sebastián Verón, who was taken off as a precautionary measure during Estudiantes’ 3-0 win in the clásico platense (La Plata derby), is fit to play. It’ll be a return to the national side for Palermo after the unhappy memory of the 1999 Copa América, when he missed three penalties in one match against Colombia. For Schiavi and Braña, though, it’s their first national call-up. Felicidades, boys.