Tevez Fires Boca To Argentine Title After ‘Lucky’ Maradona Kiss

 

Carlos Tevez struck the goal that clinched Boca Juniors the Argentine Superliga title on a dramatic final day of the season — after planting a good luck pre-match kiss on Diego Maradona, the coach of opposing side Gimnasia.

Boca entered the final round of matches trailing River Plate by a point, but their bitter Buenos Aires rivals left the door ajar after a 1-1 draw away to Atletico Tucuman.

Tevez blasted home the winner from the edge of the area on 72 minutes at La Bombonera as Boca secured a 1-0 victory on Saturday to earn a third league title in four years.

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The well-travelled former Manchester United and Manchester City striker credited his embrace with Argentina great Maradona for providing his stroke of fortune.

“I knew I had to kiss Diego, I was lucky that way. Sometimes you have to look for luck,” Tevez told Argentine sports daily Ole.

The 36-year-old veteran, a three-time English Premier League winner and twice Italian Serie A champion, said his latest title was one of the most memorable.

“It is something I can’t explain. It hasn’t sunk in yet, it’s one of the greatest emotions I’ve had,” said Tevez.

“It’s not a miracle because we fight until the end. For me, it’s like my first title with Boca. I came back hungry for glory, and to fight like this kid just starting out.”

Argentina Confirms First Coronavirus Case

Argentina’s Health Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia speaks during a press conference in which he confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in the country, in Buenos Aires, on March 3, 2020. Argentina said Tuesday it has confirmed its first case of new coronavirus in a 43-year-old man who had returned from Italy. Gonzalez said the man has been in isolation since presenting himself to a health clinic. Juan MABROMATA / AFP.

 

Argentina and Chile both said on Tuesday they had confirmed their first cases of new coronavirus in patients who recently returned from travels.

A 43-year-old infected Argentine man had returned from Italy while a 33-year-old Chilean man had spent a month in southeast Asia.

Health Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia said the Argentine patient has been in isolation since presenting himself to a private health clinic.

“We’ve identified a first case. It’s a patient who came from Italy” but had also traveled around other parts of Europe, said Gonzalez Garcia.

READ ALSO: Latest Developments On Coronavirus Across The World

The minister, who added that “fortunately the case is not complicated,” said Argentina was prepared to tackle the virus.

Chile’s Health Minister Jaime Manalich said the 33-year-old patient had been taken to hospital in the city of Talca, around 350 kilometers (220 miles) to the south of the capital Santiago.

AFP

Argentina’s Debt ‘Not Sustainable,’ Says IMF

This photo released by Argentina’s Economy Minister shows Argentina’s Economy Minister, Martin Guzman (C); IMF Adjoint Director for the Western Hemisphere, Julie Kozack (R); and IMF Mission Chief, Luis Cubeddu, during a meeting in Buenos Aires on February 14, 2020. 
Argentina’s Economy Ministry / AFP

 

Argentina’s debt is not sustainable, the IMF concluded Wednesday at the end of a week-long visit, urging the government to generate funds from private investors to address the issue.

President Alberto Fernandez’s administration hopes to renegotiate $195 billion of its $311 billion foreign debt, including a deeply unpopular $57 billion bailout loan from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund in 2018.

Assuming power two months ago, Fernandez refused the final $13 billion disbursements of the loan, leaving Argentina’s exposure at $44 billion.

“The Argentine authorities are moving to address the difficult economic and social situation facing the country,” an IMF statement released after the meetings said Wednesday.

“They have implemented a set of policies to address the rise in poverty, while also taking steps to stabilize the economy.”

READ ALSO: IMF Cuts Nigeria’s 2020 Growth Forecast To Two Percent

It added however that further efforts were needed to reduce inflation.

Argentina’s ability to service its debt deteriorated markedly compared to the IMF’s last analysis in July 2019, the fund said, when the amount owed was manageable.

Since then, the peso had depreciated by over 40 percent, international reserves declined by about $20 billion, and real GDP contracted more than previously projected.

Public debt rose to nearly 90 percent at the end of 2019 as a result.

“In light of these developments… IMF staff now assesses Argentina’s debt to be unsustainable,” the statement released after the talks said.

“A definitive debt operation — yielding a meaningful contribution from private creditors — is required to help restore debt sustainability with high probability,” it said.

It said the IMF would “continue to engage closely” with Buenos Aires amid further discussions on the government’s economic plans and policies.

As part of the process, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva will meet with Economy Minister Martin Guzman to discuss “the next steps of IMF’s engagement with Argentina” on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 Finance Ministers meeting, it said.

AFP

Argentina Is In ‘Virtual Default’ Says President

 

Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez (R) delivers a speech next to his vice-president Cristina Fernandez (L) and Buenos Aires Governor  Axel Kicillof (2nd-L) at the party’s headquarters in Buenos Aires i.  ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

 

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez said Sunday the South American country is in virtual default and compared the situation with the 2001 crisis — the worst in its recent history.

The country is in recession and has suffered 18 months of economic crisis sparked by a currency crash. Its economy is expected to shrink by 3.1 percent in 2019.

“It is not the same as 2001, but it is similar. At that time poverty was at 57 percent, today we have 41 percent poor people; then we had a debt default, today we are in virtual default,” Fernandez said in an interview with TV program La Cornice.

The center-left president came to power on December 10 after defeating liberal Mauricio Macri in the presidential election, and has previously expressed his willingness to pay creditors.

But on Friday the government unilaterally postponed until August paying some 9 billion dollars in maturities, which resulted in the country’s debt being downgraded by rating agencies Fitch and S&P, who consider it in selective default.

“This is what we inherited. We cannot face this by paying the obligations that are falling. We used to have high unemployment, and today we have the same,” Fernandez said, drawing a comparison with the 2001 crisis when Argentina defaulted on $100 billion.

“What we did not have is the inflationary process that we have now.”

The president obtained political support from Congress on Saturday with the approval of an economic emergency law that will take effect on Monday.

It includes increasing taxes on the upper and middle classes, improving benefits for the most deprived sectors, and imposing a 30 percent tax on buying and selling currencies.

Fernandez maintained the monthly $200 limit of buying foreign currency imposed by Macri last August, noting American dollars are now scarce in Argentina — and expensive.

“We have to end this practice of saving in dollars,” he said, referring to the historical habit of Argentines, who buy the dollar as a refuge currency against the country’s inflation.

Argentina has an annual inflation of 55 percent, and a debt of almost 90 percent of its GDP.

AFP

Maradona Quits As Coach Of Argentina’s Gimnasia

 

Argentine legend Diego Maradona has quit as coach of Superliga side Gimnasia, less than three months after taking over, a club source told AFP on Tuesday.

Maradona resigned and will not lead the team out next Sunday, the source said. Reports in Argentina suggest his departure is linked to an imminent management shake-up at the La Plata club.

Maradona took over as coach of Gimnasia in early September, when it was bottom of the 24-club Superliga. His last match in charge was the 3-0 win over second-bottom Aldosivi last weekend. Gimnasia sit 22nd in the standings.

Messi Scores On Argentina Return To Sink Brazil

 

Lionel Messi struck on his return to international duty Friday following a three-month ban as Argentina defeated fierce rivals Brazil 1-0 in a friendly in Riyadh.

The Barcelona forward was suspended by CONMEBOL for accusing South American football’s ruling body of “corruption” after he was sent off in July’s third-place play-off with Chile at the Copa America.

Messi netted the only goal of the game at the King Saud University Stadium on 13 minutes, tapping home the rebound after his penalty was saved by Brazil goalkeeper Alisson.

His effort came shortly after Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus rolled a spot-kick wide for Brazil, who were playing without the injured Neymar.

Messi, who scored with a pair of free-kicks in his last game with Barcelona, twice threatened from set pieces in the second half before Liverpool ‘keeper Alisson beat away a powerful drive from Paredes.

Rodrygo, the 18-year-old who scored a sensational Champions League hat-trick with Real Madrid this month, made his Brazil debut as he replaced Willian for the final 20 minutes.

However, Brazil were unable to find an equaliser as their winless run since capturing the Copa America title extended to five matches.

The meeting between the two South American giants was the second in Saudi Arabia in little over a year. Brazil beat Argentina 1-0 in Jeddah in October 2018.

Brazil also defeated Argentina 2-0 at home in the semi-finals of this year’s Copa America, a controversial match that left Messi complaining the hosts had benefited from favouritism.

Brazil will play a friendly against South Korea in Abu Dhabi on November 19, in their final game before South American qualifying starts for the 2022 World Cup in March.

France Survive Pumas Scare In Rugby World Cup Opener

Argentina’s centre Jeronimo de la Fuente (C) is tackled by France’s wing Yoann Huget (L) and France’s flanker Wenceslas Lauret during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between France and Argentina at the Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on September 21, 2019. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

France produced some champagne rugby before almost losing the plot and had to survive a last-gasp penalty to pip Argentina 23-21 in their World Cup opener on Saturday.

Fly-half Romain Ntamack paced a schizophrenic French performance with 10 points as the three-time finalists hung on to win a pulsating Pool C clash in Tokyo and leave the Pumas staring into the abyss in the tournament’s so-called ‘group of death’.

Argentina, who will now likely need to beat England to avoid an early exit, almost pulled off an astonishing comeback after being sent into battle by an emotional rallying cry from football legend Diego Maradona.

Trailing by 17 points at half-time, they fell just short after a last-minute penalty from Emiliano Boffelli sailed just wide, allowing France to claim a crucial victory.

“I thought the game was finished, I thought we’d lost the game,” admitted France captain Guilhem Guirado, referring to the late penalty Australian referee Angus Gardner awarded to Argentina.

“But I am very, very proud of my boys. It was a tough game tonight but we are very happy to start the competition with a win.”

A cagey opening was punctuated by some bone-shuddering tackles from both sides, Argentine fly-half Nicolas Sanchez sent sprawling by prop Jefferson Poirot in a monster collision.

Lock Guido Petti was a one-man wrecking crew for the Pumas in the early skirmishes and his bulldozing run led to a 15th-minute penalty that Sanchez slotted over to put the 2015 semi-finalists on the board first.

But France hit back quickly through Gael Fickou, who showed great feet to beat two Argentina defenders and score after good work from fellow centre Virimi Vakatawa.

Their tails up, the French extended their advantage with another sumptuous try four minutes later when flying winger Damian Penaud caused panic in Argentina’s defence before flipping the ball to Antoine Dupont to crash over.

 Carnival atmosphere 

Ntamack added a pair of penalties that sent Les Bleus into half-time leading 20-3, book-ending a key passage of play where France’s giant front row stopped Argentina’s scrum on their own goal line.

A bruising game was played in a carnival atmosphere, with many travelling fans sporting colourful national garb, including a noisy group of French fans dressed as Gallic roosters.

But Argentina were all business and came out firing in the second half as Petti marked his 50th cap by trundling over from a driving lineout to reduce the deficit.

Another driving maul allowed Julian Montoya to dive before a Benjamin Urdapilleta penalty on the hour-mark made it a two-point game.

Urdapilleta stroked another three-pointer to give Argentina the lead with 12 minutes to play, completing a remarkable turnaround.

But Camille Lopez dragged France back in front moments later with a superb drop goal that just had the legs in his first involvement after coming on.

Ntamack missed a late penalty before Boffelli hooked his long-range effort just wide to allow France to escape after an ill-tempered affair which boiled over after the final whistle as fighting broke out between the two sets of players.

Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma accused Gardner of favouring France with his decisions.

“It’s a shame to be refereed like a small nation,” he fumed.

“But we didn’t do anything in the first half, defended badly, didn’t attack well — lost every ball into contact,” added Ledesma, who was left to rue fine margins.

“We created many opportunities, scored, missed two points, missed three points in the first half. It comes down to that.”

AFP

Spain Beat Argentina 95-75 To Win Basketball World Cup

 

Spain brushed aside Argentina 95-75 in China on Sunday to win the Basketball World Cup.

The champions, who survived double overtime against Australia to reach the final, led throughout in Beijing to win international basketball’s biggest prize for a second time.

Irishman, 99, Competes At World Tango Championships In Argentina

Tango dancers perform during the Tango World Championship in Buenos Aires on August 14, 2019. RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP

 

A 99-year-old Irishman competing at the World Tango Championships in Argentina has received an ovation for his performance from aficionados at the Buenos Aires venue.

“Tango brings me a lot of happiness,” James McManus told local newspapers through an interpreter. “Dancing is very important socially.”

Tango fans in McManus’ native Ireland raised money for his transatlantic trip. The fit nonagenerian said he only took up tango in 2002, when he was already in his 80s.

Dressed in a white jacket, black trousers and tie, he danced in the first qualifying round with an Argentine partner, Lucia Seva.

The couple won the biggest round of applause from the knowledgeable audience at the Argentine capital’s Usina del Arte venue.

The 2019 edition of the world championships features 744 couples from 36 countries.

US Offers $7m To Find Hezbollah Agent Wanted For Argentina Attack

In this file photo taken on July 18, 1994, a man walks over the rubble left after a bomb exploded at the Argentinian Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires. ALI BURAFI / AFP

 

The United States on Friday offered a $7 million reward to find a Hezbollah operative accused of masterminding a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, as it vowed to pursue the group worldwide.

The United States also imposed sanctions on the senior Hezbollah figure, Salman Raouf Salman, in tandem with his blacklisting by Argentina as it marks the 25th anniversary of the bombing, which killed 85 people.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was visiting Argentina on the anniversary of the attack, along with ministers from several Latin American nations visiting Buenos Aires for talks on counter-terrorism.

The State Department said it would give $7 million to anyone who provides information that leads to the location of Salman, also known as Salman al-Reda.

The Treasury Department said that Salman masterminded the 1994 attack and “has directed terrorist operations in the Western Hemisphere for Hezbollah ever since.”

“This administration will continue to target Hezbollah terrorists who plot horrific murderous operations and indiscriminately kill innocent civilians on behalf of this violent group and its Iranian patrons,” said Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

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Iran is the primary sponsor of Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim militant movement as well as political party that waged a guerrilla campaign against Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon.

Salman has been reported to have joint Lebanese and Colombian citizenship, allowing him to move more easily across Latin America.

Asked where he is believed to be now, a senior administration official said: “We think he is probably somewhere in the Middle East.”

The Treasury designation will freeze any assets he may have in the United States and criminalize any assistance to him, although Hezbollah as a whole is already under heavy US sanctions.

A State Department official said that the United States has been encouraging Latin American nations to follow the US model in blacklisting groups and individuals as terrorists — as seen in Argentina’s decision on Salman.

Jesus, Firmino Send Brazil Into Copa America Final As Messi Fails Again

 

Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino scored the goals as Brazil beat arch-rivals Argentina 2-0 on Tuesday to qualify for the Copa America final.

Jesus and Firmino netted a goal apiece in each half to give Brazil a victory which ensured Lionel Messi’s frustrating wait for a major international tournament title with Argentina continued.

Hosts Brazil will play the winners of Wednesday’s second semi-final between champions Chile and Peru in Sunday’s final.

It was the first time these age-old rivals had met in a major competition since Brazil beat Argentina 3-0 in the 2007 Copa final.

English-based Jesus and Firmino were the stars, each creating the other’s goal, although captain Dani Alves had a major say in the opener.

“It was another step towards our objective. We’re achieving all the goals that we’re setting ourselves,” said Alves.

“A lot of people doubt us but we have a lot of faith in ourselves, in our plan, in our hard work.

“We’re reaping the fruits of the seeds we’re sowing every day.”

But it was a miserable night for Messi, whose hopes of landing a major international honour with Argentina ended in disappointment once again.

He will get another opportunity next year, though, with the fourth Copa America in the last five years, due to be played in Argentina and Colombia.

“We should have been the team going to the final because we deserved it, no doubt about that. But sometimes football is unfair,” complained Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.

Tackles flying

In what was always expected to be a feisty affair there were some wild early tackles flying in, and Argentina’s Nicolas Tagliafico was first to be booked for a lunge at Jesus.

The uneven pitch looked like it had been trampled by a herd of wildebeest before kick-off and both sides struggled to play flowing football.

Brazil’s Casemiro was even jeered after sending a long crossfield ball straight out of play.

The first chance came when Argentina’s Leandro Paredes let fly from 30 yards but the ball whistled just over the top of goalkeeper Alisson’s goal.

Brazil took the lead on 19 minutes after a piece of individual brilliance from Alves.

He beat three players on a mazy run before sending Firmino clear down the right with a no-look pass, the Liverpool forward crossing for the unmarked Jesus to tap home.

Two-footed lunges were flying in as the match threatened to descend from niggly to dirty.

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Argentina almost levelled on the half hour when Sergio Aguero headed Messi’s free-kick onto the bar, the ball bouncing down just in front of the line before Brazil scrambled it clear.

Messi then burst into life, driving at heart of the Brazil defense and playing in Aguero, who took advantage of a Thiago Silva slip to make space for himself but Marquinhos was quickly across to block the Manchester City striker’s shot.

Moments later, Messi beat two men on the right, won back the ball with a sliding tackle after overrunning it, but then wastefully shot high and wide.

At the other end, Arthur shot powerfully, but straight at goalkeeper Franco Armani.

Pirouetting Jesus

Argentina pushed Brazil back at the start of the second half and Aguero picked out Lautaro Martinez in the box but he didn’t catch his left-foot volley cleanly and Alisson gathered comfortably.

Another promising attacking move ended with Rodrigo de Paul blazing over from 20 yards.

But Jesus produced a beautiful piece of skill, including a pirouetting drag-back, before teeing up Philippe Coutinho who should have done better than shooting over.

Moments later, though, a blocked shot from Martinez looped over to Messi who lashed a shot from an angle against the post, with Alisson beaten.

Alisson was alert to clutch a Messi free-kick on 66 minutes that looked destined for the top corner.

By then, Scaloni had already gone for broke, bringing off midfielder Marcos Acuna and sending on speedy winger Angel Di Maria, with Messi dropping into a deeper role.

Just as Argentina looked capable of finding a way back into the match, Brazil stung them on the counter-attack with Manchester City’s Jesus getting away from two defenders and teeing up the unmarked Liverpool striker Firmino for a tap in on 71 minutes.

Scaloni threw on another forward in Paulo Dybala but there was no way back for Argentina.

AFP

Chile, Argentina Set For Spectacular Solar Eclipse

Schoolchildren try special sunglasses at the Pedro Pablo Munoz school in La Higuera, Coquimbo Region, in the Atacama desert about 580 km north of Santiago, on the eve of a solar eclipse on July 1, 2019.  Martin BERNETTI / AFP

 

The day will briefly turn to night Tuesday over large parts of Chile and Argentina as a total eclipse of the Sun plunges a vast swath of the southern Pacific and the cone of South America into darkness.

Both countries will be under the narrow, 6,000-mile long band that will experience a total eclipse when the Moon will completely block the Sun.

According to Chilean astronomers, the breathtaking natural phenomenon will begin at 13:01 (17:01 GMT) in the Pacific Ocean and a 95 mile (150 kilometres)-wide band of total darkness is set to reach Chile’s coast 4.38 pm (2038 GMT), then cross into southeastern Argentina.

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People in some areas under the path of the eclipse will experience more than two minutes of total darkness, the Chilean Foundation of Astronomy says.

“There’s a lot of expectation. This is a historic event in the region,” said Catalina Henriquez, who runs an astrotourism agency in Vicuna, a town 280 miles north of Santiago renowned for clear skies that have made it Chile’s “astronomy capital”.

Vicuna is part of the Coquimbo region that is dotted with observatories equipped with high-powered telescopes and where the eclipse will be strongest.

An estimated 300,000 tourists have flocked to the region where dryness, crystal-clear air and low light pollution has created a stargazers’ paradise.

Matias Badilla, 19, said his family had been anticipating the event for years. “It’s something we’ve been planning for a long time. For us, to see it so closely in such a beautiful place is something that we couldn’t miss.”

Thousands of people have descended on the nearby town of La Higuera, located on the so-called “path of totality,” where the eclipse is predicted to last longest, around 2 minutes and 36 seconds.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and several members of his cabinet will watch the event from the La Silla Observatory, on a mountain peak towering 2,400 meters over the Atacama Desert, operated by the European Southern Observatory.

The observatory and its fleet of powerful telescopes will live stream the event on the internet and has also opened to the public, hosting school tours along with talks and workshops.

“The 2019 total solar eclipse will last about 1 minute and 52 seconds from the La Silla summit. The Sun will be setting just as the entire eclipse ends and the peak of totality will happen when the Sun is a mere 13 degrees above the horizon from the view of La Silla Observatory,” the observatory said.

Further south, the capital Santiago will experience a near-total eclipse.

Solar eclipses happen when the Sun, the Moon and Earth line up, allowing the Moon to cast its shadow on Earth.

The next total eclipse will be visible in southern Chile on December 14, 2020.

AFP