Buenos Aires: Argentina coach Sergio Batista put his stamp on the post-Diego Maradona era by recalling World Cup absentees Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and Andres d’Alessandro to the national squad on Friday.
Batista, the interim coach hoping to be confirmed permanently later this year, also named Barcelona defender Gabriel Milito in a 23-man squad for a Sept. 7 friendly against World Cup winners Spain at River Plate’s Monumental stadium.
Inter Milan’s Zanetti, a veteran of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, and Cambiasso, who played in the 2006 finals, were surprise omissions from the squad for South Africa where Argentina were eliminated by Germany in the quarter-finals.
Batista, handed the job on an interim basis after Maradona was not retained, otherwise picked players who were in his squad for this month’s 1-0 friendly win over Ireland in Dublin.
“I’m thinking of the 2014 World Cup and the priority is to develop juniors for the senior team,” said Batista, who in Ireland had talked of mixing experience and youth in the squad.
“The way we work in Argentine football must change because we can’t always be thinking that the most important thing is to win from when a kid is eight,” said Batista, who had been in charge of the juniors and the 2008 Olympic title winners.
The 37-year-old Zanetti, Argentina’s record caps holder with 136, and Cambiasso were overlooked in June despite having helped Inter win a treble of Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League.
Barcelona’s Gabriel Milito was also not picked by Maradona despite being a first choice central defender for Argentina in the 2006 finals in Germany and showing good form after returning from a long absence with a knee ligament injury.
The 29-year-old D’Alessandro, who last played for Argentina five years ago and has never appeared at a World Cup, helped his Brazilian club Internacional win the Libertadores Cup this week and is a candidate for South American player of the year.
The only home-based player on Batista’s list published on the Argentine Football Association’s website (www.afa.org.ar) was Lanus goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin.
The match is part of Argentina’s bicentennial celebrations.
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Agustin Marchesin (Lanus)
Defenders: Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Walter Samuel, Nicolas Burdisso, Javier Zanetti (all Inter Milan), Gabriel Heinze (Olympique Marseille), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Gabriel Milito (Barcelona)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Fernando Gago, Angel Di Maria (both Real Madrid), Ever Banega (Valencia), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan), Mario Bolatti (Fiorentina), Andres D’Alessandro (Internacional)
Forwards: Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid), Carlos Tevez (Manchester City), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Diego Milito (Inter Milan), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli)