The Argentina Under-20 soccer team, led by Javier Mascherano, will debut this Saturday in the World Cup against Uzbekistan, in Group A, with renewed enthusiasm, a thirst for revenge and enormous expectations due to their status as local. The match will be played at the Madre de Ciudades stadium in Santiago del Estero, starting at 6:00 p.m., and will be televised by Public TV, TyC Sports and DirecTV.
Mascherano’s team will give free rein to a “second chance” after the elimination in the South American of Colombia (it finished seventh out of ten teams) which led to the resignation of the former captain of the Argentine national team.
If Argentina today hosts the 23rd. edition of the U-20 World Cup – and the team achieved the World Cup place that they had not been able to achieve in the South American – is because FIFA took away the role of organizer from Indonesia due to political conflicts with Israel. The management of the president of the AFA, Claudio Tapia, in an act of skilful political reflex, plus the interest of Conmebol, with a view to the candidacy for the 2030 World Cup together with Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay, tipped the balance for the appointment of emergency. While, the continuity of Mascherano also had the incidence of Lionel Scaloni, whose talk was key to reverse the position of the former River and Barcelona of Spain.
On the move, Mascherano could not count on Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United), Facundo Buonanotte (Brighton And Hove) and Nicolás Paz (Real Madrid), who were not loaned out by their clubs, protected by FIFA’s decision that as of this edition removed the character of “mandatory” to the transfer of players.
Argentina’s preparation took place at the Lionel Messi stadium in Ezeiza with friendlies against the Dominican Republic and Japan. The 4-0 and 2-1 wins, respectively, gave us a glimpse of the starting base for the premiere in Santiago del Estero.
Beyond the absence of three “Europibes”, Argentina will have outstanding footballers such as Máximo Perrone (Manchester City), Valentín Carboni (Inter), Luka Romero (Lazio), Matías Soulé (Juventus) and Mateo Tanlongo (Sporting Lisbon). . The young European stars will be joined by Valentín Barco (Boca), Agustín Giay (San Lorenzo), Juan Gauto (Huracán), Ignacio Maestro Puch (Atlético Tucumán) and Alejo Véliz (Rosario Central), among others.
Argentina will also have the plus of the public. The Mother of Cities of Santiago del Estero will look complete and will be one more motivation for a team that will seek to reverse what happened in Colombia.
This is the second world championship that has been organized in the country since 2001, when the team led by José Pekerman, with Javier Saviola in the role of goalscorer and star, became champion at the José Amalfitani de Vélez stadium.
This Saturday’s rival will be Uzbekistan, classified as Asian champions, which in its three friendly matches prior to the World Cup won one (3-0 vs the Dominican Republic) and lost two (4-1 vs Brazil and 2-0 vs Uruguay). One of the figures of the Asian team is Umarali Rakhmonaliev, who plays for Rubin Kazan in Russia.
Those led by Ravshan Khaydarov faced Argentina in a friendly on September 8, 2022 with a 2-0 defeat and will face their fifth World Cup participation. His best results were the quarterfinals in the editions of Turkey 2013 and New Zealand 2015.
Argentina, the top winner of the competition with six titles out of 17 participations, is the head of group A and will also face Guatemala on May 23 at 6:00 p.m., in Santiago del Estero, and then they will travel to San Juan to close the first phase with New Zealand, Friday the 26th at the same time.
The best two from each of the six groups will qualify for the round of 16 along with the four best third-placed.
If Mascherano’s team is classified first, it will play on May 31 in San Juan against one of the third-placed teams; if he advances, he will return to Santiago del Estero to play the quarterfinals on June 4; and the semifinals, on June 8, and the final on June 11 will be at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium in La Plata.
ARGENTINA: Gomes Gerth; Giay, Di Lollo, Gomez, Barco; Perrone, Carboni, Tanlongo; Soule, Veliz, Gauto. DT: Javier Mascherano.
UZBEKISTAN: Boymurodov; Ortikboev, Khusanov, Urozov; Abdurahmatov, Askarov, Esanov, Makhamadzhonov; Rahmonaliyev, Fayzullayev, Kholdorhonov. DT: Ravshan Khaydarov.
Stadium: Mother of Cities (Santiago del Estero). Hour: 18.00. TV: Public TV, TyC Sports, DirecTV.