Lionel Messi withdrawal from Singapore friendly angers fans

Lionel Messi withdrawal from Singapore friendly angers fans

Some Singapore fans are angry that Argentina captain Lionel Messi will reportedly miss Tuesday’s friendly at the National Stadium.

The five-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner was the star attraction for the No. 2-ranked South Americans at a match to mark the 125th anniversary of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

But Argentinian newspaper Clarin is reporting that both Messi and defender Nicolas Otamendi will skip the trip to Singapore to prepare for their prospective weddings.

Barcelona ace Messi will marry his girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo on June 30, with Otamendi’s wedding scheduled for June 16.

While UNICESS, the promoters of the Singapore game, have yet to announce the absence of the pair, new Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli confirmed the news in a media conference in Melbourne ahead of Argentina’s friendly against Brazil on Friday.

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With Messi the headline act, tickets for the match are priced between S$40 and S$188.

“Obviously it’s a huge disappointment. If I knew this earlier, I would probably have bought cheaper tickets,” marketing executive Alvin Tan told TODAY.

“The other players in the Argentina team are world class as well, but they’re no Messi,” he said.

Student Rahul Warrier added: “Considering the game was marketed as Messi and stars coming to Singapore, the main attraction was obvious … the blame lies at the organisers, because certainly they must have known something about Messi’s absence.”

UNICESS said in a statement on Thursday that it was trying to get more information about Argentina’s plans for the match.

“The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and match promoter UNICESS are aware of the recent media stories around Lionel Messi and Nicolas Otamendi’s appearance in the Singapore vs. Argentina football match,” UNICESS said.

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“We are currently working with the AFA to determine the authenticity of the claims made in these reports and will provide an update as soon as we are able.

“Meanwhile, we are looking forward to welcoming the Argentinian national team to Singapore for this historical match against the Lions as we celebrate FAS’ 125th anniversary.”

Singapore captain Shahril Ishak said last week that playing against Messi would be “like a dream come true”, while coach V. Sundramoorthy described the occasion as something that comes around only every 10 or 20 years.

The Argentina squad is due to arrive in Singapore on Saturday afternoon.

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