Messi stirs hopes for Argentina in 2011 America's Cup

16:46, June 30, 2011      

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Argentina's Lionel Messi smiles during their practice session at the squad's camp ahead of the Copa America tournament in Buenos Aires, June 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, one of the world's top soccer players at the moment, has stirred hopes at home that the Argentine national soccer team can win the upcoming 2011 America's Cup for the first time in 18 years.

The Argentine team is coached by Sergio Batista and besides taking the advantage as host of the tournament Argentina's claim to be the top candidate to win the July 1-24 America's Cup owes to its large number of players that at the moment form part of the team.

The 24-year-old Messi won both the European Champions League and the Spanish league with Spanish giants Barcelona and soccer fans expect him to end the trophy drought of the season with the national team.

Messi is surrounded by other important soccer players in the Argentine team including Carlos Tavez, who was one of the top goal-makers in the British league for Manchester City, Sergio Kun Aguero of Spanish club Real Madrid, and Javier Zanetti of the Italian club Inter Milan.

Batista has selected a team of 23 players which include 22 foreign based players. The only local is substitute goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo. Eleven of these players also attended the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where Argentina was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Argentina and Uruguay have each won the America's Cup 14 times, followed by Brazil having won the title for eight times and one of the three teams are expected to win the tournament this year.

Argentina are in Group A alongside with Bolivia, Colombia and Costa Rica, and will play the opening match on July 1 against Bolivia.

Batista has said the tournament, however, is not a priority but rather part of training efforts toward the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but he knows that Argentine soccer fans want a triumph and they will demand that Argentina wins the tournament at home with their star-strutted team.

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