Argentina prepare for friendly against Hungary

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Argentina is using this week's excursion - and Wednesday's friendly against Hungary - to prepare.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Argentina already has secured its trip to Europe for the World Cup next year. So it's using this week's excursion - and Wednesday's friendly against Hungary - to prepare. "We hope it be will a strong and very competitive match,'' manager Jose Pekerman said Monday after an hour-long Argentine training session at the Ferenc Puskas Stadion, the site of Wednesday's game. "Both teams want to be at the World Cup in the best condition.'' Hungary is third in its qualification group and has little hope of advancing. Pekerman also said he was glad Argentina forward Javier Saviola had found a club team, after the recent announcement that he will join Spanish side Sevilla on loan from FC Barcelona. "It was great news and I'm happy for him and for the Argentine squad,'' Pekerman said. "We needed him to be in competition again.'' At the same time, Pekerman said there was no pressure for 18-year-old Barcelona midfielder Lionel Messi, who led Argentina's under-20 squad to victory at last month's World Youth Championship, to make his senior squad debut on Wednesday. "It's satisfying that this young man has appeared now, showing so much talent,'' Pekerman said. "But there's no pressure for him to play or to have him already now in the starting lineup.''

Favorable comparisons between Messi and Argentine hero Diego Maradona also are fueling speculation, since Maradona's international debut also came against Hungary, in a February 1977 friendly. For his part, Hungary coach Lothar Matthaeus said the game against the South Americans would be useful to measure the true quality of his team and give players a chance to show their worth ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Sweden next month. (AP)

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