Sorin mystified by Veron hate campaign

April 6, 2006

BUENOS AIRES, April 6 (Reuters) - Argentina captain Juan Pablo Sorin does not know why midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron has apparently fallen out with him.

Sorin, who plays for Villarreal, was involved in several ugly clashes with Veron, who plays for Inter Milan, in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg.

The pair had to be separated at halftime when Veron moved towards Sorin in the players' tunnel.

The incidents, replayed numerous times on Argentine television, fuelled speculation that Veron believes Sorin is behind his exclusion from the Argentina team.

Veron, whose poor form was widely blamed for Argentina's shock first-round exit in Japan and South Korea four years ago, has not been picked since Jose Pekerman took over as coach in October 2004. Sorin has been made captain by Pekerman.

'I don't pick or leave players out of the national team,' Sorin told the sports daily Ole in an interview.

'I think that idea belittles a coach (Pekerman) who has won the World Youth championship three times. It's completely absurd.

'I haven't had any problem getting on with any player in the Argentine team. I've always got on well with everyone.

'If anyone has a problem with me, my telephone is always on the hook. He could have called me but he didn't,' said Sorin, without mentioning Veron by name.

'I don't know what was behind it all. You'd have to ask him. I was surprised by his reaction....to be honest, I didn't understand it.'

Sorin praised playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme, his team mate at club and international level after Villarreal reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time with a 1-0 win over Inter.

'He's a player who controls the rhythm of the team and can open up the horizon at any moment. I hope he can play that sort of match for the national team.'