CAIRO: The Argentinian national team arrived in Cairo Monday for their friendly with the Egyptian national team to be held at 8 pm tonight at the Cairo Stadium.
Dressed in their blue tracksuits, team Captain Javier Zanetti and Sergio Agüero accompanied their coach Alfio Basile to a press conference late Monday. Walking into a semi-filled room, the Argentinians answered questions about playing against Egypt.
“It’s an important game with the two-time defending African Champion, Basile said, noting how important the game is in Argentina’s agenda of friendlies.
Both sides have scheduled a number of friendlies in preparation for South Africa’s 2010 World Cup qualifiers. Argentina will also be meeting France and Switzerland for other friendlies.
The game coincides with similar ones planned between African teams and European ones.
The last time Argentina won the World Cup was in 1986, but it sits on top of the FIFA ranking of national teams.
Basile is leading a strong squad after calling up many Argentinian players from European leagues.
Similar call ups took place on the Egyptian side with Mohamed Zidan and Ahmed Hassan arriving late Monday to join the rest of Egypt and Europe-based teammates in game preparation.
But while Argentina will be missing its famous and FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who is out due to injury, Mohamed Abou Trika will be available for the same game after recovering from injury.
“Abou Trika has totally recovered from the interior-ligament injury and had a full training on Monday, the Egyptian team s doctor Ahmed Maged told FilGoal.com.
Yet Basile, who is also missing Boca Juniors playmaker Juan Román Riquelme and Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez, isn’t worried about the absence of some star players.
“The absence of a player or two or even three doesn’t affect a team, Basile said. There are substitutes, he added, who all play in Europe.
Currently, 70 percent of the Argentinian team play in Europe, while the rest play in the Argentinian league.
Repeatedly expressing the importance of the game, Basile said that although the Egyptian team doesn’t have one prominent star, it’s a united team with strong players in all lines, whether defenders or strikers.
The Argentinian team held two training sessions on Tuesday.