BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Argentina coach Sergio Batista has said for the first time that he has personal issues with Carlos Tevez, which are likely to keep the Manchester City striker off the team for the Copa America - the South American championship.
Speaking late Wednesday after Argentina's 4-2 victory over Paraguay in a friendly, Batista said Tevez's chances to be on the team were ''small.'' Argentina is expected to name its Copa America squad next week.
Batista said that during a meeting in December with Argentina assistant coaches Carlos Brown and Alejandro Tocalli, Tevez said ''a thing that today has kept him off the team.'' Batista did not elaborate.
Batista said just a week ago that he had no personal problems with Tevez.
''Tevez is a great player,'' Batista said. ''I don't want to say he's permanently left out. There are World Cup qualifiers and the World Cup ... Today the chances are small.''
Fans during the Paraguay match chanted ''Ole, Ole, Ole - Tevez, Tevez'' and a handwritten sign in the stadium said: ''Checho (Batista), Tevez is an Argentine.''
Tevez is more popular with Argentine fans than superstar Lionel Messi, who left Argentina for Barcelona as a youth player and has never played with an Argentine club. Tevez was a star at Boca Juniors and later at Corinthians in Brazil before moving to West Ham United in England.
On Wednesday, Diego Maradona again criticized his predecessor for leaving Tevez off the squad. Maradona said Tevez was still being punished for skipping a friendly match in November in Qatar against Brazil.
Maradona called Tevez, who plays for Manchester City, ''the people's player'' and praised him for being joint-top scorer in England despite ''playing against those orangutans'' in the physical Premier League.