riquelme quits national team

BUENOS AIRES - Boca Juniors' veteran playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme insists he will not don the colours of Argentina again as long as Diego Maradona is coach.

BUENOS AIRES - Boca Juniors' veteran playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme insists he will not don the colours of Argentina again as long as Diego Maradona is coach.

"As long as Maradona is coach I will not return to the national side - we are not on the same wavelength," 30-year-old Riquelme told Argentine television. "It's clear we cannot work together.

"The national side is over for me - I say that very clearly.

I learned from the radio that I was not going to play against France [in a February 11 friendly which the South Americans won 2-0 in Marseille].

I have principles and they are not those of the coach," Riquelme complained.

"It's a shame to know I will miss the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and I wish the team all the best.

If I go things would not be easy and I prefer that someone else goes in my place.

"I'm tired - I want to live in peace. It's strange how things are in 2009 with all the criticism after an incredible 2008," said Riquelme, who won Olympic gold last summer in Beijing.

Riquelme had already walked out on the national side in 2006 before returning under Alfio Basile.

Ironically, before Riquelme made his announcement, Maradona had indicated he wanted to call the player into the squad for World Cup qualifiers.

Riquelme was angered last week when Maradona said he had issues with the player's form.

"Riquelme, I need him in the final 20m so he can link with [Carlos] Tevez, [Sergio] Aguero and Lionel Messi and peel off an opponent.

I like it when he uses his speed to spray around decisive passes and also get on the scoresheet. If he's not doing that he is of no use to me," Maradona said.

Two-time world champions Argentina trail South American qualifying group leaders Paraguay by seven points. - Sapa-AFP

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