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Figueroa injures knee, to miss World Cup

The Argentine striker damaged ligaments in his left knee in River Plate's victory over Estudiantes and will miss six months, ruling him out of the World Cup.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 15:20 IST

Argentine striker Luciano Figueroa damaged ligaments in his left knee in River Plate's victory over Estudiantes and will miss six months, ruling him out of the rest of the Clausura championship and any chance of making the World Cup, River said on Monday.

The 25-year-old Figueroa, who had previous stints with Spain's Villarreal, Cruz Azul of Mexico and England's Birmingham, had scored eight goals in 15 games for the Argentine national team, making him a prominent candidate for Germany.

Figueroa also was key to River's recent first-division successes. He has helped River to the top of the Argentine standings, scoring three goals in eight rounds of the Clausura championship.

"This is a real setback, coming just in the moment when things were starting to go so well," Figueroa told local reporters.

Figueroa was injured without being challenged during Sunday's match, a 3-1 River victory. Alone and undefended, he lost his balance, twisted and fell in the second half. He was taken from the field on a stretcher, his head bobbing in pain.

Team doctor Luis Seveso said a preliminary exam indicated Figueroa had suffered ligament damage near his left knee but authorities were still studying the extent of the injury. He added that he expected Figueroa to be out at least six months.

Figueroa led Argentina's Clausura tournament in scoring in 2003 for Rosario Central. He then played briefly with Birmingham in England in 2004 before moving on to Cruz Azul and later Villareal. In 2004, he transferred from Villareal to River Plate for $2 million.

It was the second major blow for River Plate's offense this year: in mid-January, Colombian standout forward Radamel Falcao Garcia injured ligaments in his right knee. He, too, is to remain out for the rest of the first-division season.

First Published: Mar 07, 2006 15:20 IST