Basile's team ready for Brazil in first of many friendlies

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The Football Association may be accused, at times, of knowing the price of everything and value of nothing but when it comes to selling the family silver the FA are hoarders compared to the illustrious combatants at the Emirates Stadium in London tomorrow.

Argentina v Brazil is a fixture to stir the soul at any time and it has drawn 60,000 and live television coverage to Arsenal's new home. However, it is little more than a marketing exercise, albeit of high pedigree.

Brazil's commercial links with Nike, and the demands the deal made upon the team and players, have long prompted debate. Now Argentina's FA has also taken the dollar bait. This match is the first of a controversial series of 24 friendlies Argentina will play over the next five years to be organised by Renova, a Russian petroleum company.

The AFA will receive $750,000 (£405,000) for each match, plus domestic TV rights. Renova has the rights for the rest of the world. More contentiously, it can choose the venues and opponents and has compiled a list of 30 players from which at least seven must feature in each friendly.

It is not the ideal backdrop for Alfio Basile's return to international management. "El Coco", a reference to his coconut-shaped head, was manager from 1991 to 1994, his reign culminating with the dramatic exit from the 1994 World Cup in the wake of Diego Maradona's positive drug test. Basile's return is also due to Maradona's intervention. A year ago Maradona persuaded Boca Juniors to hire the coach, where he was hugely successful. So when Jose Pekerman stuck to his promise to resign after the World Cup, the AFA came looking for Basile. However, he has been combining coaching the national side with managing Boca until Ricardo La Volpe, Mexico's coach at the World Cup, can take over later this month.

West Ham's new recruits, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, will be on that list along with the likes of Lionel Messi and Juan Roman Riquelme, who has been promised he will retain the No 10 shirt by Basile. Also look out for the latest "next Maradona", 19-year-old Sergio Aguero, signed by Atletico Madrid this summer for £15.5m.

Brazil are also under new management, the more pragmatic Dunga, Brazil's winning captain at the 1994 finals. His first match at any level of management was last month, against Norway, for which only eight of the World Cup squad were retained. Brazil drew.

Kaka and Ronaldinho have been recalled for this match but with Ronaldo, Adriano, Roberto Carlos, Cafu and Emerson all either dropped or retired, Brazil will field a youthful team. This will be more in line with the one which thrashed Japan in Germany, and many Brazilians thought should be retained, than the one which folded in the quarter-final against France. Gilberto Silva has retained his place and may be joined by Arsenal's new signing Julio Baptista.