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Messi-less Argentina to start WC qualifying against Ecuador

December 17, 2019 GMT
Alejandro Dominguez, head of the South American soccer governing body Conmebol, presents the draw for Qatar 2022 South American qualifiers in Asuncion, Paraguay, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Cesar Olmedo)
Alejandro Dominguez, head of the South American soccer governing body Conmebol, presents the draw for Qatar 2022 South American qualifiers in Asuncion, Paraguay, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Cesar Olmedo)

LUQUE, Paraguay (AP) — Argentina will host Ecuador to start its South American World Cup qualifying campaign in March, and without the suspended Lionel Messi.

The draw on Tuesday at CONMEBOL put Bolivia in Argentina’s path in the second round of qualifying. Messi will be eligible to play that match after his red card in the Copa America.

Brazil also received a comfortable launch, hosting Bolivia in the first round and visiting Peru in the second.

The biggest match of the first round will be between Uruguay and Chile.

South America’s superclasico will take place in the sixth round in October, when Brazil hosts Argentina. Their second World Cup qualifier will be in September 2021.

The dates and venues were still to be decided.

South America holds four direct spots to the Qatar World Cup in 2022. Each team plays home and away, a total of 18 matches.

The fifth-placed team in South America has a chance through a playoff against a team from another confederation.

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