Thursday, 27 November 2008


Despite initiatives, action plans and lots and lots of hot air Argentina remains possibly the most dangerous country in the world in which to watch a football match. The latest 2 fatalities received little coverage outside of the country which gives some indication of how commonplace such incidents have become. Last Saturday, Daniel Lopez 21 was watching Colon Santa Fe take on Godoy Cruz Mendoza along with his brothers. According to his hospitalised brother Maximiliano an argument broke out between Daniel and a younger fan. A seemingly minor incident developed rapidly into violence with Daniel being fatally stabbed. The catalyst for all this seems to be that the Lopez brothers had the audacity to watch the match from an area of the stadium they don't usually frequent. Their fellow fans didn't appreciate their presence.

Last weekend's other tragedy was the result of clashes that took place over 3 weeks previously. Huracan supporter and member of the El Pueblito gang 27 year old Rodrigo Silvera (Cafu) was shot during clashes with San Lorenzo supporters. On this occasion Huracan and San Lorenzo fans fought outside of a pizzeria. No stabbings this time, however a total of 4 fans received gunshot wounds of which Cafu's was the most serious. He passed away 23 days after the incident.

Apart from the fatalities two other things stand out: Daniel Lopez was most likely killed by a fellow Colon supporter. Cafu was killed on a day when Huracan and San Lorenzo weren't even playing each other.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Like father, like son. Estudiantes in the final.

In some circles the Copa Sudamericana is viewed with a certain amount of disdain when compared to it's more illustrious continental partner - the Copa Libertadores. Try telling the fans of Estudiantes de la Plata that their passage into this week's final against Internacional of Brazil is nothing more than a pre-Christmas irrelevance. Thirty thousand fervent Pinchas celebrated wildly at he end of tight, tetchy 1-0 semi-final 2nd leg victory against compatriots Argentinos Juniors. For me the victory was made even more impressive after the 5-0 humiliation suffered by Estudiantes at Argentinos in the Apertura only last Sunday.

For fans of English football there will be a familiar face in the final: Juan Sebastian Veron. The 33 year old midfielder returned to his spiritual home in 2006 and quickly helped his side take that year's Apertura. The classy midfielder will no doubt be forever tainted by his relative ineffectiveness when playing in England. According to many pundits in the UK his lack of success on these shores brands him a failure, full stop and we are subjected to the usual embarrassing array of cliches - 'it's too cold for him over here', 'he can't play in January', 'the Premier League is too physical, too fast'. I acknowledge that Veron never fulfilled his huge potential (and price tag) but lets not forget the long list of British stars who have tried and failed overseas; Paul Gascoigne and Ian Rush to name two.

Veron will be an integral part of Estudiantes first international final appearance since 1971. The defeat to Uruguay's Nacional in the Copa Libertadores marked the end of the most successful period in the club's history. The famous or infamous Los Pincharattas collected 3 Copa Libertadores during the preceding 3 seasons and were crowned Intercontinental Champions after beating Manchester United over two bad-tempered legs in 1968. The goalscorer in England: Veron, Juan Ramon Veron father of Sebastian.

The all important goal that has taken Estudiantes to the final:

Hasta luego!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

I Want Oscar

Storm clouds are gathering in Buenos Aires and they're heading towards Glasgow. We're approximately 2 weeks in to Diego Maradona's reign as boss of La Seleccion and the first conflict between himself and the AFA is in full swing. The catalyst for this is El Diez's insistence on his World Cup winning teammate Oscar Ruggeri joining his coaching staff as No 2. AFA president Julio Grondona is not having any of it and flatly refuses to endorse his appointment. The exact nature of Grondona's problem with Ruggeri is not known and he's not giving many clues to the media at present, 'perhaps I don't like his face, who knows'. Very strange indeed.

As to how serious the current situation is depends on who you believe. Bilardo is trying to calm fears by ensuring that Maradona has no intention of resigning. However other unknown sources close to El Diez state that if Ruggeri doesn't join the set up Diego will be off. On Saturday the team are due to depart for Scotland with Maradona assuring that he'll be on the flight. What happens after next Wednesday's game is anybody's guess.

If the unthinkable happens and he does walk contractual issues shouldn't be too difficult to resolve - Maradona is yet to sign on the dotted line.

Hasta luego!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Adios Simeone

'The only person responsible is me' - the contrite words of Diego Simeone after River's exit to Mexican side Chivas in the Copa Sudamerica (the poor relation to the Copa Libertadores). Given that his 11 blew a 2-0 HT lead in Guadalajara maybe they had something to do with it too?

The whole River saga seems to have reached an inevitable conclusion, as I type Buenos Aires TV are reporting that Simeone has or rather will do the decent thing. He will resign after Sunday's home game to Huracan, no doubt satisfied that at least the exit is on his terms and he wasn't pushed. Quite how much longer the board and the fans could stomach the current situation is open to debate but anything other than a win on Sunday would have seen the end of his reign. Without a league win since 17th August, a humiliating home defeat to Boca, and bottom of the pile his days were clearly numbered. Add into the equation the very public exit of Ortega which appears to have had the opposite effect to what was intended and last but by no means least the resurgence of eternal rivals Boca.

Quite a fall from grace - from Clasura winner to job seeker in a matter of months.

Hasta luego!