Football

Argentina continue rocky path to World Cup

Luis Suarez could yet line up against Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi tomorrow morning (Singapore time) as South America's battle for 2018 World Cup places resumes with Argentina's trip to Uruguay the pick of the fixtures.

With Brazil already through to next year's Finals, attention turns to the tussle for the three remaining automatic berths on offer in the 10-team group.

Colombia are second on the table while Uruguay and Chile occupy the other two automatic spots.

It means fifth-placed Argentina have little margin for error in Montevideo.

Argentina have won only six times in 14 qualifiers, but have shown signs of life under new coach Jorge Sampaoli, who began his reign with a morale-boosting 1-0 win over Brazil in a friendly in June.

Argentina's path to Russia has been complicated by the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling on Tuesday that confirmed a sanction against Bolivia for fielding an ineligible player in their 0-0 draw with Chile last September.

Fifa later converted that result to a 3-0 win for Chile, meaning Chile now have one point more than Argentina.

"Now we have to play catch-up to get to the World Cup," Sampaoli said.

Uruguay, meanwhile, are sweating on the fitness of Barcelona star Suarez.

The 30-year-old was initially ruled out of the fixture but has travelled back to his homeland to train with the team.

Veteran coach Oscar Tabarez hinted Suarez may yet make a dramatic return.

"He has shown signs of recovery that have rather surprised us," Tabarez said.

"It is a very, very difficult match... We will see who has the most guts for it." - AFP