Lionel Messi (L) and Neymar | AFP
Rio de Janeiro: The Brazil national team coordinator Juninho Paulista has asked international football body, FIFA, to quickly decide when and where the team's suspended World Cup qualifier against Argentina will be replayed.
The match in Sao Paulo last September was halted shortly after kick-off when Brazilian health officials walked onto the pitch to object to the participation of four Argentina players for allegedly breaching COVID-19 protocols.
FIFA has since indicated the game will be rescheduled, without providing details. Juninho said on Friday that uncertainty about the fixture could negatively impact the team's preparations for the World Cup later this year.
"We hope to have a resolution soon because, yes, it makes our planning difficult," the former Atletico Madrid and Middlesbrough midfielder said, according to Xinhua.
According to Juninho, Brazil and Argentina already have an agreement to play a friendly before the World Cup. "It is our preference that there is only one game, so that the friendly is combined with the qualifier. But that hasn't been defined yet," he added.
Brazil and Argentina have already qualified for the World Cup, to be played in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.
Meanwhile, uncapped forward Gabriel Martinelli has been called up to Brazil's squad for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Bolivia, the Brazilian Football Confederation said.
The 20-year-old was rewarded for his impressive form for Arsenal, with whom he has scored five times and provided two assists in 17 Premier League matches this season. Manager Tite also named Martinelli's Arsenal teammate, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimaraes while recalling Juventus midfielder Arthur, who last played for Brazil in November 2020.
As expected, the 25-man squad includes Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, Chelsea defender Thiago Silva, Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior and Barcelona right-back Dani Alves.
But there was no place for out-of-sorts Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus or injured Liverpool attacker Roberto Firmino.
Brazil will play Chile at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium on March 24 and Bolivia in La Paz five days later. The five-time world champions lead the South American zone standings and have already qualified for football's showpiece tournament, to be played in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras)
Defenders: Danilo (Juventus), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Alex Telles (Manchester United), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon), Arthur (Juventus), Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle), Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa)
Forwards: Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Richarlison (Everton), Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo (both Real Madrid), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Antony (Ajax), Raphinha (Leeds). IANS