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Argentina did the unthinkable on Tuesday night picking a World Cup ticket at the brink of either losing out or at best having to go through a play-off to qualify.

But that was not the case, Argentina which had its qualification in jeopardy owing to poor runs made a dramatic turnaround to beat Ecuador 3-1 and qualify after Brazil also handed a helping hand by beating Chile 3-0 to aid Argentina’s direct qualification instead of going through a play-off with New Zealand.

That is as far as sport is concerned. But Sports Village square has gathered from Washington Post that Black Magic aided Messi and the rest of La Albiceleste.  The newspaper quoted two Argentine publications, TyC Sports and La Clarin which reported that a sorcerer called Manuel was flown to Ecuador to cast magic wands that will aid Argentina beat their hosts.

It was claimed that the man with a shoulder-length mullet flew to Ecuador to “bring good energy” to the team, which has floundered badly in the World Cup qualifiers and is in danger of being eliminated from making the tournament for the first time since 1970.

Sensing the team’s desperation, former Argentine midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, who claims Manuel helped local squad Estudiantes de La Plata win the 2009 Copa Libertadores, reportedly recommended Manuel’s services to Argentine Football Association (AFA) head, Claudio Tapia.


The AFA apparently would not confirm or deny it had enlisted Manuel’s services, although reports claim he was spotted in the team’s hotel in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and later in Quito, where the Albiceleste took on Ecuador on Tuesday night.

It’s unclear what Manuel’s “spiritual guidance” entailed, although one follower of Manuel in his hometown of Garina in Argentina, told La Clarin, Manuel does not rely on “dark arts.”

“He sees a lot of things that others do not,” the woman, who did not provide her name to the Argentine newspaper, La Clarin said. “He has a special energy.”

Before Tuesday’s match, Argentina had only won once in Quito, where the home team tends to have the advantage due to the city’s high altitude. The city of Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level, which can tire out players used to lower elevations more easily than those acclimatized to the

The 3-1 win guaranteed Argentina qualification as Brazil beat Chile in another match played simultaneously with that of Ecuador versus Argentina.


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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