After recovering from hamstring and knee injuries, Lionel Messi will be available for Argentina’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Brazil, according to Albiceleste manager Lionel Scaloni.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the Paris Saint-Germain attacker trained freely with the Argentina squad, exhibiting no signs of the injuries that kept him out of the French team’s last two matches.
The Albiceleste will face Uruguay in Montevideo on Friday and Brazil in San Juan in central-western Argentina on Tuesday (November 16).
“Messi is fine. He intensified his training a little more (on Wednesday and Thursday) and, in principle, he’s available,” Scaloni told reporters. “Leo wants to play and I want him to play. He played all the way through (this year’s) Copa America and, for me, he is a source of pride. I’d love everyone to have the same desire to play that he does, even when they are not fully fit.”
Argentina is presently in second place in the 10-team South American qualifying group, six points behind Brazil, with seven victories and four draws from 11 matches.
Meanwhile, Ecuador beat Venezuela 1-0 at home in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Thursday evening, thanks to a first-half goal from teenage defender Piero Hincapie. With a diving header that bounced into the back of the net after ricocheting off goalkeeper Rafael Romo, the 19-year-old Bayer Leverkusen centre-back grabbed onto a curling Gonzalo Plata free-kick.
The result means Ecuador now have 20 points from 13 qualifiers as they edge closer to securing a berth in their first World Cup since 2014, Xinhua reports. Venezuela remains last in the 10-nation South American zone standings with seven points from 13 games.
The top four teams will automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar while the fifth-ranked side will advance to an intercontinental playoff.
(With INAS inputs)