Argentina coach vows no repeat of quarantine chaos

Argentina’s England-based players will stay for all three of their South American World Cup qualifying games in the current window and will not return early due to quarantine rules.

FILE PHOTO: Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (pic), and Tottenham Hotspur's Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero have been named in the 30-man Argentina squad for upcoming World cup qualifiers.   -  REUTERS

England-based players from the Argentina squad will stay for all three of their South American World Cup qualifying games in the current window and “under no circumstances” return early due to quarantine rules, coach Lionel Scaloni said on Wednesday.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso are all in the squad for the match away to Paraguay on Thursday and home games against Uruguay on Sunday and Peru on October 14.

The players were involved in chaotic scenes last month as Brazilian health officials stopped Argentina's match against Brazil, alleging the England-based players had not served the necessary quarantine after arriving from a red-list country.

World Cup Qualifiers: Argentina selects three Premier League players  

The match was abandoned, and the players returned to their English clubs, missing Argentina’s 3-0 win over Bolivia a few days later.

“We’re not doing the same as last time,” Scaloni said.

“(Last time) I said they would be coming for all three games because that was what we’d agreed in principle. Then there were problems, and I freed them. It’s totally different now.

“There are three games, and under no circumstances will they be leaving prematurely. If that happens, then we’ll make an official (protest)."

Premier League players who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to travel to countries on the UK government's red list and be permitted to play and train when they quarantine on return.

SCALONI SUPPORTS BIENNIAL WORLD CUP PLAN

Scaloni said he is in support of having biennial World Cups as it would benefit South American teams by cutting down on lengthy qualifying campaigns.

He said the change “could bring benefits" by improving the format of South American qualifiers, which currently has a 10-team round robin competition that goes on for two years.

“It is an idea that I like,” he said.

“The (qualifying) matches would all be played in one month, the trips would be shorter. If it is like that I would agree as a coach of a South American national team."

Vaccinated Premier League players can travel to red list countries

He added that it would be “very good for people to watch a World Cup every two years.”

However, Brazil coach Tite was more hesitant when asked the same question.

“I don’t want to give opinions without studying. At first it is a nice idea, but I can’t say just yet that this is my opinion,” Tite said ahead of Brazil's qualifier at Venezuela.

Argentina is second in the 10-team South American qualifying group, six points behind leader Brazil. The top four qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 and the fifth-placed side goes into an inter-regional playoff.

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