‘Argentina also has goalkeeping worries’

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Argentina’s Cristian Pavon (L) and Nigeria’s Alexander Iwobi vie for the ball during an international friendly football match between Argentina and Nigeria in Krasnodar on November 14, 2017. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

While Nigerians are fretting over the state of the Super Eagles’ goalkeeping department, their rivals in Group D of the Russia 2018 World Cup, Argentines are also going through nightmares over who would stand between their opponents and goal scoring at the Coupe du Mundo.

Argentina has two established goalkeepers, Sergio Romero and Willy Caballero, but both are reserve goalkeepers for their clubs, who have hardly had any match day experience a few months to the World Cup.

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Romero, who was in goal for the Albiceleste at the 2014 World Cup final, is the number two goalkeeper for Manchester United, while Caballero can only play when Thibaut Courtois is not available for Chelsea.

According to Argentine sources, Coach Jorge Sampaoli has named five goalkeepers in his preliminary list of 35 players. They Romero, uncapped Franco Armani of River Plate, Caballero and Mexico-based duo Nahuel Guzman (Tigres) and Agustin Marchesin (Club America).

ROMERO has been Argentina’s starting goalkeeper for the past five tournaments, including the South Africa 2010 World Cup and the 2011 Copa America. Armani, who was courted by Colombia, where he spent seven years playing for Atletico Nacional, is the most in-form shot stopper, whose exploits for new club, River Plate, has endeared him to the fans. The 31-year-old goalkeeper has never been selected by the national team, but there is a strong campaign in his country for his inclusion in the World Cup team.

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Caballero won the 2001 U20 World Cup for Argenrtina and made a name for himself at Malaga in the season leading up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but his stock has fallen since he joined Chelsea. He was first capped in the 2-0 win against Italy and featured in the disastrous 6-0 defeat by Spain.

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Worried by the state of their goalkeepers, Argentine publication, Mundoalbiceleste at the weekend urged the country’s football followers to help Coach Sampaoli choose the right candidate for the number one spot.Like Nigeria, the publication acknowledges that there are few genuine contenders for the position, but it believes the coach should be guided to make the right choice.

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