Tevez to start in place of Crespo

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez will start in place of Hernan Crespo in Sunday's Copa America final against Brazil.

updated: July 16, 2007 18:14 IST
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Maracaibo, Venezuela:

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez will start in place of Hernan Crespo in Sunday's Copa America final against Brazil, even though the Inter forward was given clearance to play and will be available.

Crespo was injured earlier in the tournament but cleared for Sunday's championship match. However, Argentine manager Alfio Basile has decided to use the identical starting 11 that beat Mexico 3-0 in the semifinals.

"He hasn't trained with the team for 12 days," Basile said in reference to Crespo. "Tevez took his place, performed well and that's why he's going to be starting."

Crespo pulled a muscle in his right thigh converting a penalty kick in Argentina's 4-2 victory over Colombia in the first round.

Initially doubtful for the rest of the tournament, the team's doctor announced Friday that Argentina's second-highest scorer in history had recovered sufficiently and was fit to play.

Sunday's final will be a repeat of the 2004 Copa America final in Peru, in which Argentina lost to Brazil in penalty kicks 4-2 after a 2-2 draw.

Tevez, who plays for West Ham of the English Premier League, is one of six Argentine veterans from that loss.

Three Brazilians fro this year's team also played in the 2004 final, and two of them - Maicon and Juan - are expected to be among the starters this time around. However, manager Dunga has yet to disclose his lineup.

Basile, who in a previous coaching stint led Argentina to Copa America titles in 1991 and 1993, said he disagreed with the tournament organisers' decision for the game to be played at 5 pm local time, when temperatures in Maracaibo are expected to reach near 40 degrees Celsius.

"Surely it'll be a different kind of match, slower and more closed, than our previous games played at night when both teams are freer to develop their own style of play," Basile said.

"I suppose (the kickoff time) has to do with money," he added, without explaining further.

The Argentines are tied with Uruguay for the most South American titles at 14, while Brazil is a distant second with seven, although it haw won three of the last four titles in soccer's oldest international tournament.