On Tuesday, the secretary general of the Uruguayan Football Association, Alejandro Balbi, said Uruguay is interested in replacing Argentina in the Río de Janeiro Olympics if Argentina can’t participate, which should be decided in about a week.
Argentina has yet to formalize a football team due to lack of players and with all the drama happening inside the Argentine Football Association (AFA) as well as yesterday’s resignation of coach Gerardo Martino, it seems like little brother Uruguay is slyly stepping up to the plate to prove it’s worthy again to mother.
Uruguay did place third in the 2015 South American Under 20 Championships, which in addition to being a championship of its own also serves as a qualifier for the Olympics. As third, Uruguay is the next-qualified team eligible to go to the Olympics if one of the first- or second-place teams drops out — Argentina in this case. To better help its case, Uruguay has a set and functioning team and has already been training. Finding other players under 23 (the age limit for football players participating in the Olympics) would be the last piece to compiling a team, Balbi said.
A big part of Argentina’s problem has been negotiating the release of players from club teams to play on the national team. But that might be a different story in Uruguay. “We have a great relationship with the local clubs. Nobody in their right mind would refuse to release players for the competition,” he said.
Lately, football morale has been gloomier in Argentina than the weather. Not much left to do but wait until the storm passes and see if we get our act together in time to send a team to the Olympics.