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Messi hits back over his Argentina performances

sports Updated: Sep 24, 2009 02:50 IST

Agencies
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Lionel Messi hit back on Tuesday over criticism of his Argentina performances and said they would reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"We have to get together and go forward because Argentina can't stay out of the World Cup,” the Barcelona forward said.

Coach Diego Maradona's team, who lost their last two qualifiers 3-1 to Brazil and 1-0 in Paraguay, are in fifth place in the South American group, which is a playoff berth.

“I alone won't win a match...this is down to all of us who are in the team,” Messi told a radio station in Rosario, the city of his birth.

Argentina face Peru at home and Uruguay away in their last two qualifiers in October, looking to climb into the top four for an automatic World Cup berth or remain fifth for a two-leg playoff with the CONCACAF's fourth-placed team.

Messi also denied reports in Argentine media that he and Maradona did not speak to each other, saying: “The relationship with Diego is great. There are no fights (in the squad), on the contrary.

“When we started with Diego (as coach) we won all the friendlies, we played well. Now it's important to win these two remaining (qualifying) matches.”

Brazil and Paraguay have qualified. Chile are third with 27 points, Ecuador have 23 and Argentina 22. Behind them, Uruguay and Venezuela have 21 points and Colombia 20, while Bolivia and Peru are out of the reckoning.

Ibrahimovic doubtful for Malaga clash

Madrid: The minor sprained ankle Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered in Tuesday's 4-1 win at Racing Santander could keep him out of the champions' next La Liga match at Malaga on Saturday.

The Sweden striker, who scored Barca's opening goal and created one for defender Gerard Pique with a clever backheel, went over on his right ankle in the second half and played on for several minutes before being replaced by Pedro.

“The player is doubtful for the game on Saturday at Malaga,” Barca, who have four wins out of four in La Liga this season, said on their website.

Levski Sofia get home ban for racism

Sofia: Bulgarian champions Levski Sofia must play their next home game at a neutral ground following a racist incident among their supporters during the 2-0 loss at leaders and city rivals CSKA on Sunday.

The ban, imposed by the Bulgarian Football Union, will be served on Sunday when Levski, who were also fined 37,500 levs ($28,344), play surprise packages Chernomorets Burgas who are level on points with CSKA. Levski fans unfurled racist banners during the match which was also marred by a crowd trouble.