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World Cup: Diego Maradona leaves two Argentine stars out in the cold

May 19, 2010 |  5:42 pm

All that Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso have achieved this season has been to lead Inter Milan to its fifth consecutive Italian Serie A title and to help power the club to Saturday's European Champions League final against Bayern Munich in Madrid.

Apparently, that wasn't good enough for Diego Maradona, Argentina's coach, because on Wednesday he left both players off the final roster of 23 that he will take to the World Cup in South Africa.

Zanetti, 36, has played a record 136 matches for Argentina, including those in the 1998 and 2002 World Cup tournaments, but he was left off the team by then-coach Jose Pekerman in 2006 and was not surprised to be ignored once again this time. He said he would enjoy his success with Inter and simply hope that Argentina does well.

Cambiasso, 29, is perhaps best remembered as the player who finished off a memorable 24-pass move to score this goal against Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, a goal made even more memorable by the commentary of Martin Tyler.

Maradona has called up more than 100 players to the national team in his less than two years in charge, but the effective and influential Cambiasso has never been invited to camp.

Maradona did include each of Argentina's top forwards, Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain, among his six strikers, but if Messi fails to win the World Cup because Argentina's defense is not strong enough without Zanetti and Cambiasso, it will be Maradona who gets the blame.

And deservedly so.

-- Grahame L. Jones