ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Two more first division clubs were knocked out of the Argentinian Cup last week – Estudiantes de La Plata and first place River Plate.

River Plate were kicked out by Rosario Central, 10 places below them and Estudiantes were beaten by second division Huracàn.

So who is left in the semifinals? The two above mentioned winners, a second top division team between Atlético Rafaela and Defensa y Justicia and the winner between second division Argentinos Juniors and third division Estudiantes de Buenos Aires.

The pity is that nearly all clubs line up reserves, or what they call mixed teams for cup games which downgrades the Argentine Cup to what is basically a reserves tournament.

“Mixed teams” are a bunch of youngsters and first team squad players who rarely, if ever, play in the first division and therefore lack match practice. Also, they are a mix of players who never play together and  so lack teamwork.

It might have been different in the old days when there was a reserve division of professionals and a third division which has now become the reserves.

Spreading the gospel

Another reason – why this tournament is downgraded by the Argentinian football association – is playing matches in the provinces and far away from the clubs involved “so that people in the Interior get to see the big clubs live”.

This is another reason why clubs do not send their best players as they cannot have them away for most of the week and have two tiring journeys.

But the AFA does not seem to realise that only River and Boca have a big following all over the country and other teams have played in front of small crowds. Yet last week, when River Plate were made to play in San Juan, people there complained that River came with reserves.

Suspensive non-effect

Suspending local referees by the AFA after making mistakes is getting out of hand and there are many more that should be suspended.

But what exactly is the AFA’s idea? Suspension may decide them to be more careful, but it does not teach them anything and they return to make the same mistakes without having received any further instructions.

Last week, Italy asked FIFA, the international federation, to allow video replays in their league matches and I hope they are given permission.

The request came after the top of the table clash between Juventus and Roma won 3-2 by Juventus who got two disputed penalties and scored the winner from an offside position.

Isn’t it high time to stop referees from deciding matches, accidentally or on purpose?

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