BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina have named Atletico Madrid’s Angel Correa and Giovanni Simeone, son of the Spanish club’s coach Diego, in the national soccer team for next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Correa is one of five players based abroad, including West Ham United midfielder Manuel Lanzini, Real Sociedad goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli plus forwards Jonathan Calleri and Lucas Romero, who play in Brazil for Sao Paulo and Cruzeiro respectively.
Notable absentees are strikers Paulo Dybala of Italian champions Juventus and Mauro Icardi of Inter Milan after Argentina had serious problems securing the release of players for their 18-man Olympics squad.
“We got the team out with forceps,” Argentina Olympic Committee (COA) president Gerardo Werthein told La Nacion after fearing last week he might not have a squad for the Games.
Coach Gerardo Martino quit on returning from last month’s Copa America in the United States, where Argentina’s senior side were runners-up to Chile, after discovering he had just nine players confirmed in the squad for Olympic training last week.
Julio Olarticoechea, who was looking after the under-20s, replaced Martino and will hope to become the second member of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup-winning team to steer his country to the Olympic title after Sergio Batista in Beijing in 2008.
The gold medal team in Beijing, which included Lionel Messi, retained the crown won by Argentina four years earlier in Athens but the country failed to qualify for the 2012 London Games.
Keeper Rulli and Independiente defender Victor Cuesta, who made his senior Argentina debut at the Copa America, are two over-age players in the under-23 squad.
River Plate striker Simeone was top scorer with nine goals in as many matches in the South American under-20 championship which Argentina won in February 2015 to book an Olympic ticket.
Argentina meet Portugal, Algeria and Honduras in the group phase of the tournament that kicks off on Aug. 4, the day before the official start of the Games.
(Writing by Rex Gowar; Editing by Ken Ferris)