Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Friday May 27 2011
The Copa América gets under way in just over a months time, it is the South American equivalent of the European Championships, and Wigan Athletic fans will have plenty of interest in the competition with current Latics players Hugo Rodallega and Antolin Alcaraz set to star for their countries against former Latics players Marcelo Moreno and Antonio Valencia.
Rodallega is in the Colombia squad that will play in Group A facing Moreno`s Bolivia in the last game of the group stage. The Colombians kick off their tournament on 2nd July against Costa Rica before facing hosts Argentina in Santa Fe on the 6th July. The game with Bolivia takes place on 10th July, again in Santa Fe
Antolin Alcaraz and his Paraguay team have been drawn to compete in arguably the toughest group, Group B, they start their campaign by coming up against Antonio Valencia and his Ecuador team on 3rd July before taking on tournament favourites Brazil six days later, they finish their group games off against another tough side, Venezuela on 13th July.
The groups are:
Group A Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica
Group B Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela
Group C Chile, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay
If Colombia and Paraguay qualify for the knock round as expected, seeing as only four teams will be going out after the group stages, Rodallega and Alcaraz could feasibly be involved in the tournament right up to the final stages, which only ends on 24th July, just 3 weeks before the Premier League is set to kick off on 13th August.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez seems unconcerned about the fact that two of his more important players will miss the majority of pre-season, instead of bemoaning the fact that Alcaraz and Rodallega will only be returning to England on the eve of the new season, he is revelling in the joy that the two will have representing their respective countries in one of Footballs biggest tournaments.
Speaking to the media about the involvement of Rodallega and Alcaraz in the Copa América Martinez said: 'South American players love playing for their countries. You could see that in the World Cup.
"Some of the European players enjoy playing in the Champions League more than they enjoy playing in the World Cup. But South American players love representing their countries, especially the ones playing in Europe. It is a great way to go back to their roots and they enjoy that.'
'It will be a real boost for Hugo to play for Colombia, he really enjoys playing up front with Falcao'
'As long as he does not get an injury, it is not going to affect him physically. Other types of players, it could be a big problem for next season. But in Hugo's case, the more he plays the fitter he gets. He has that kind of slim body so it will be a real boost. I hope he can enjoy it.'
Here`s hoping that they have a successful and enjoyable tournament that is injury free and come back to the Latics better for their experiences and ready for the new season.
Go Colombia! Go Paraguay!
Latics and Proud
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Date:Friday May 27 2011
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