ShareThis Page
News

Argentina, Brazil again favorites at Copa America

| Tuesday, July 6, 2004, 12:00 p.m.

LIMA, Peru -- Now it's South America's turn, although many of its top players won't be there.

Europe just finished crowning its champion at Euro 2004. South America today begins its Copa America, a 10-team tournament among nations whose soccer passions run deep. The opening games are Colombia-Venezuela and Peru-Bolivia.

Joining the field are two guests from the soccer region of North and Central America and the Caribbean -- Mexico and Costa Rica. The United States turned down an invitation.

The favorites again are Argentina and Brazil. But there could be a surprise at the 88-year-old event -- soccer's oldest national-team tournament -- because of all the big-name absentees.

World Cup champion Brazil will be without its three "R"s -- Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho. They have all chosen to rest after grueling European seasons. Instead, Brazil will field a younger squad, testing players and strategies with an eye toward the 2006 World Cup qualifiers.

"Our principal objective will be watching players for the future," coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said. "But in the process, we are obviously also looking to win."

Brazil leads the South American qualifying race, on break until September, with 13 points after seven games, one point ahead of Argentina. Chile and Paraguay are tied for third.

The Argentines are coming off several disappointing showings and pressure is mounting on coach Marcelo Bielsa. He has drafted several players from the team's 2002 World Cup squad.

Even though top stars Hernan Crespo, Pablo Aimar and Walter Samuel are staying home, choosing to rest after their European seasons, Argentina probably has the strongest squad. But nothing less than the title most likely will satisfy its fans.

Peru has renovated stadiums in seven cities, adding 57,500 seats as it hosts the Copa America for the first time since 1957.

Organizers have overcome threats by airport workers and a stadium dispute. The tournament will open and close at Lima's 45,000-seat Nacional Stadium, built for the 1953 Copa.

Defending champion Colombia is rebuilding and vulnerable to an improved Venezuela, hoping to win its first Copa game since 1967.

Peru hopes Nolberto Solano and striker Claudio Pizzaro -- both play in Europe -- can help lift the host country to its third title. Peru should easily emerge from Group A, the weakest of the three groups.

Mexico will have one of the few veteran squads, featuring Claudio Suarez, Jared Borgetti, Francisco Valencia and goalkeeper Oscar Perez. The Mexicans will compete with Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay in Group B, considered the tournament's strongest.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me