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4 Guatemalan Players Kicked Off Team

Winnipeg Fury

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Just the news I want to hear before a big match:

The Guatemalan team coach, Honduran Ramón 'Primitivo' Maradiaga, yesterday expelled four players from Guatemalan club side Cobán Imperial from his squad. The news came just four days before the side is due to face Surinam in the CONCACAF zone qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™.

According to the coach, the four players - whose club side won the league championship last Sunday - were out celebrating their trimph in the northern city of Cobán, when they should have been reporting to the team's training facilities for international duty.

"We understand that they were on cloud nine after winning the title but what we're talking about here is assuming responsibility. We view this very seriously," said Maradiaga, who insisted a possibile reprieve for the players was out of the question - at least not for Saturday's game.

The players who have been dropped from the squad are goalkeeper Miguel Angel Klee, defender Nelson Morales, midfielder Hetzon Pereira and striker Walter Estrada - the league's top scorer with 14 goals.

The disciplined players had joined their teammates to celebrate the club's first title in their 40-year history, and consequently arrived late for the team meeting scheduled for that same Sunday night.

According to the manager, it was because of this lack of responsibility that he was forced to leave the players out of the squad for this Saturday's FIFA World Cup™ qualifier in Paramaribo, Surinam.

The goalkeeper Klee - who conceded the least amount of goals in this year's championship - called Maradiaga's decision "unfair", while Estrada said he accepted that he had made a mistake and had no choice but to respect the manager's decision.

Meanwhile, the manger of the club at the centre of the controversy, Julio César Antúnez, criticised Maradiaga's decision saying, "he's leaving the country's best keeper, best defender, best central-midfielder and best striker out of the team."

The Guatemalan are set to travel Wednesday for the first leg of their opening tie in the regions qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. The return leg is set to be played on 20 June in the Mateo Flores Stadium in the Guatemalan capital.

Maradiaga's Guatemalan side played three friendly games in the run up to these qualifiers: in their first outing they beat El Salvador 3-0, then went down 2-1 to Panama before winning last time out against Haiti (1-0).

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