Argentine coach arrives in Kolkata

Kolkata: Argentine football coach Alejandro Sabella and goalkeeper Estaban Andrada along with 15 officials arrived in Kolkata on Monday morning following a 39-hour journey for the team`s friendly match against Venezuela on September 2.

Seventeen other Argentines -- sans showstopper Messi and his Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano -- are scheduled to arrive on Tuesday morning in two batches.

The Barca duo are held back because of their club`s La Liga match with Villareal on Monday. As of now, there is no official word on Messi and Mascherano so they are expected late on Tuesday or Wednesday night.

The Messi-led Argentina will play two International friendlies in the sub-continent -- against Venezuela in Yuba Bharati Krirangan on September 2 and another versus Nigeria in Dhaka on September 6.

The Argentines got a rousing welcome at the airport as they headed straight from the airport to the team hotel near the Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

Coach Sabella, accompanied by his deputy Julian Camino, a former East Bengal player in 1988, is expected to visit the stadium on Monday evening.

Five Argentine officials -- Pernas Oscar Alberto, Diego Iacovone, Marcelo Dandrea, Pablo Blanco and Mario Destefano -- had arrived in the first batch of the squad on Sunday.

They visited the refurbished Salt Lake stadium and Pernas Oscar Alberto, who had come on a recce last week, was pleasantly surprised to see its new look.

The 120,000-capacity stadium, owned by the state government, will be handed over to the organisers this afternoon.

PTI

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