Friday 03 March 2017, 23:21

South American powers name squads for March qualifiers

Brazil coach Tite has handed surprise call-ups to Flamengo playmaker Diego and Sport forward Diego Souza for this month’s South American qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

Both players impressed the Seleção boss during a friendly match in aid of Chapecoense against Colombia in January and have been rewarded with spots in Brazil’s 23-man roster, with the South American qualifying zone leaders facing a difficult trip to second-placed Uruguay on 23 March before hosting Paraguay on 28 March.

Diego, who helped Brazil to Copa America titles in 2004 and 2007, was last called up for a friendly against Portugal back in 2008. The former Santos, Porto, Wolfsburg and Juventus player will be looking to add to his 36 career appearances for his country.

Diego Souza is one of four strikers to be selected and replaces the injured Gabriel Jesus, who is currently sidelined with a broken foot he suffered last month with his new club Manchester City in England. Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Marquinhos, Willian, Casemiro and Douglas Costa are some of the notable names to be also included.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi features in a 26-man squad named by Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza on Friday. Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Mascherano were also selected, while Bauza handed call-ups to the domestically based pair of Estudiantes goalkeeper Mariano Andujar and Racing midfielder Marcos Acuna.

Currently fifth in the South American qualifying zone, La Albiceleste are one point adrift of the four automatic qualification spots for Russia 2018. They host fourth-placed Chile in a crucial encounter on 23 March before travelling to La Paz to face Bolivia on 28 March.

Uruguay coach Oscar Washington Tabárez handed Pachuca midfielder Jonathan Urretaviscaya his first senior call-up and included Lanus defender Alejandro Silva in his 24-man squad for their upcoming qualifiers at home to Brazil on 23 March and away to Peru on 28 March.

Familiar names to be included in the latest Celeste squad were strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, Middlesbrough midfielder Gaston Ramirez, and Atletico Madrid centre-back Diego Godin.