Milito picked by Argentina for friendly | india | Hindustan Times
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Milito picked by Argentina for friendly

The Real Zaragoza striker has been called up by Argentina for their World Cup warm-up match against Croatia.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 18:20 IST

Real Zaragoza striker Diego Milito, who put four goals past Real Madrid last week, has been called up by Argentina for their World Cup warm-up against Croatia in Switzerland on March 1.

Milito, equal third among Primera Liga scorers with 11 goals, was included in an 18-man squad by coach Jose Pekerman for Argentina's only scheduled friendly before the Germany tournament starting on June 9.

The only previous time Pekerman called up Milito was for an unofficial match against a Catalunya selection in December 2004.

Milito won seven caps and scored three goals under former coach Marcelo Bielsa.

With only Hernan Crespo and Carlos Tevez as virtual certainties up front, Pekerman appears to be undecided about which other strikers to add to his World Cup squad from a group which also includes Julio Cruz, Javier Saviola and Luciano Figueroa.

Milito's four-goal spree last week helped Zaragoza eliminate Real Madrid in the King's Cup semi-finals. His brother Gabriel, a Zaragoza team mate and a near certainty for Germany, is also in the squad.

THIGH INJURY

Included in midfield is Villarreal playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme, who is almost fully recovered from a thigh injury and hoping to play against Rangers in the Champions League next week.

Pekerman appears to have concerns about the right back position and has left out Javier Zanetti, 32, of Inter Milan, calling up three defenders who are on the fringe of his squad, Zaragoza's Leonardo Ponzio, Lionel Scaloni, who is on loan at West Ham United, and Inter's Nicolas Burdisso.

Three well established internationals, Roberto Ayala, Gabriel Heinze and Javier Mascherano, are absent. The trio are recovering from surgery but hoping to make it to Germany.

Pekerman, who hopes to set up two more warm-ups in May according to Argentine media, may add home-based goalkeepers Roberto Abbondanzieri of Boca Juniors and the uncapped Oscar Ustari of Independiente to the squad.

Squad:

Goalkeeper: Leonardo Franco (Atletico Madrid). Defenders: Walter Samuel, Nicolas Burdisso (both Inter Milan), Gabriel Milito, Leonardo Ponzio (both Real Zaragoza), Fabricio Coloccini (Deportivo Coruna), Lionel Scaloni (West Ham United). Midfielders: Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Juan Roman Riquelme, Juan Pablo Sorin (both Villarreal), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan), Pablo Aimar (Valencia), Luis Gonzalez (Porto), Maxi Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid). Forwards: Hernan Crespo (Chelsea), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Carlos Tevez (Corinthians), Diego Milito (Real Zaragoza).