Batista names squad for Nigeria, Poland friendlies

A squad of 22 players mostly aged under 25 and based in Europe

will represent Argentina for friendlies against Nigeria on June 1

and Poland four days later.

Manchester City fullback Pablo Zabaleta, fresh from winning the

FA Cup in England, plus Nicolas Otamendi and Fernando Belluschi,

both members of FC Porto’s Europa League-winning squad, were named

on the list by coach Sergio Batista on Wednesday.

The squad gives opportunities to Argentina’s fringe players and

leaves out established stars such as Lionel Messi and Javier

Mascherano.

All of the players were based in Europe except for Independiente

goalkeeper Adrian Gabbarini and midfielder Mario Bolatti, who

played for Internacional in Brazil.

Perhaps the most unusual selection was Valencia midfielder

Alberto Costa, who has never played in Argentina and began his

career in a non-professional league on the island of

Guadaloupe.

”On the island I played at amateur level, but I dreamt of

reaching the top and wearing the national team colors,” said

Costa, who also holds French citizenship.

The games are in Abuja, Nigeria then Warsaw, Poland.

Argentina was preparing for the Copa America which it hosts in

July.

Argentina:

Goalkeepers: Oscar Ustari (Getafe), Adrian Gabbarini

(Independiente)

Defenders: Federico Fazio (Seville), Mateo Mussacchio

(Villarreal), Ezequiel Garay (Real Madrid), Nicolas Otamendi

(Porto), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Marcos Angeleri

(Sunderland), Alejandro Cabral (Legia Warsaw), Emiliano Insua

(Galatasaray).

Midfielders: Nicolas Bertolo (Zaragoza), Alberto Costa

(Valencia), Pablo Piatti (Almeria), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica),

Fernando Belluschi (FC Porto), Franco Jara (Benfica), Mauro Formica

(Blackburn), Mario Bolatti (Internacional).

Forwards: Diego Perotti (Seville), Marco Ruben (Villarreal),

Mauro Boselli (Genoa), Jonathan Cristaldo (Metalist).