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Higuain snubbed for Argentina World Cup clashes


Buenos Aires (AFP) – Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain was axed by Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli on Friday for crucial World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela as the South American giants look to resurrect their faltering campaign.

Higuain, who has scored 31 international goals in 68 appearances, failed to convince recently-appointed coach Sampaoli of his strengths in two friendlies against Brazil in June.

Argentina currently occupy fifth place in South American qualifying for the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia with just the top four nations guaranteed to make it through.

The fifth-placed team will have to negotiate a play-off against the winners of the Oceania zone in order to reach Russia.

Argentina, with Lionel Messi pulling the strings, will face Uruguay on August 31 in Montevideo and Venezuela at Buenos Aires on September 5.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Man Utd/ENG), Nahuel Guzmán (Tigres UANL/MEX), Gerónimo Rulli (Real Sociedad/ESP)

Defenders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona/ESP), Federico Fazio (AS Roma/ITA), Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Pareja (both Sévilla/ESP), Nicolás Otamendi (Man City/ ENG).

Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sévilla/ESP), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan/ITA), Augusto Fernández (Atlético Madrid/ESP), Leandro Paredes (Zénit Saint-Pétersburg/RUS), Guido Pizarro (Sévilla/ESP), Angel Di María, Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Marcos Acuña (Sporting Lisbon/POR), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham/ENG), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica/POR).

Attackers: Lionel Messi (Barcelona/ESP), Paulo Dybala (Juventus/ITA), Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan/ITA), Joaquín Correa (Sévilla/ESP), Sergio Agüero (Man City/ENG).

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