Argentina to play exhibitions against El Salvador and Nigeria in the U.S., replacing China tour

BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Argentina scheduled exhibitions against El Salvador and Nigeria in the United States next month as part of Copa America preparations, replacing a China tour canceled after Lionel Messi didn’t play at Inter Miami’s preseason game in Hong Kong.

Argentina will play El Salvador on March 22 at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Field and Nigeria four days later at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Argentina Football Association said Thursday.

Messi, Argentina’s captain, is likely to be with the World Cup champions and miss Miami’s Major League Soccer match at the New York Red Bulls on March 23.

World Cup champion Argentina had been scheduled to play Nigeria at Hangzhou and Ivory Coast at Beijing during a tour of China from March 18-26.

Messi said before Miami’s friendly against a local all-star team in Hong Kong on Feb. 4 that he was suffering from a groin injury, and his absence sparked spectator anger. He played three days later in Tokyo in an exhibition against Vissel Kobe.

Argentina, the defending world and South American champion, opens the Copa América against Canada or Trinidad and Tobago on June 20 at Atlanta, then plays Chile five days later at East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Peru on June 29 at Miami Gardens, Florida.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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