Riquelme called for Argentine qualifiers

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/f/footballgeneric1.jpg' class='caption'> Juan Roman Riquelme has been called up for Argentina's opening World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Venezuela.

Updated: September 30, 2007 13:56 IST
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Juan Roman Riquelme has been called up for Argentina's opening World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Venezuela, a surprise among an initial roster of 20 foreign-based players because he is not a regular at his Spanish club side.

Coach Alfio Basile released a partial roster, surprising many with the choice of Riquelme, who plays for Spanish side Villarreal but has been idled since his last match for Argentina July 15 in the Copa America against Brazil.

The list was will be supplemented with domestically based players next week, the Argentine soccer body AFA said on its web site on Thursday.

Following the Copa America, Riquelme returned to Villarreal but he has yet to start for his European squad since, barely taken into account by its coach, Manuel Pellegrini.

Argentina has lost to Norway and defeated Australia in friendly matches in which Basile has tried other options in Riquelme's post, including Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona and Federico Insua, who plays for America of Mexico.

Argentina receives Chile on October 13 at River Plate's Monumental stadium and will play three days later against Venezuela in Maracaibo.

Nucleus of the squad

Most of the players summoned on Thursday formed the nucleus of the squad that competed in the Copa America, along with a few others called up by Basile for other matches.

Basile also called Sergio Aguero, who plays for Atletico of Madrid, who with Messi are among the top scorers in the Spanish league.

Not selected were Hernan Crespo of Inter Miland and Diego Milito of Zaragoza.

But Basile also called up veteran goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri, who suffered a leg injury in weekend play with his Spanish team, Getafe.

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