Messi targets drought as Copa Centenario kicks off

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LOS ANGELES, June 1, (APP/AFP): Lionel Messi and Argentina will be targeting the country’s 23-year title drought when the Copa America Centenario kicks off on Friday after a troubled build-up marred by corruption allegations which threatened to derail the event.

One hundred years after Uruguay clinched the inaugural four-team South American championship in Argentina, 16 teams from across the Americas are gathered in the United States for a special one-off edition of the tournament.

The three-week festival of football gets under way at the Levi’s Stadium in California on Friday, when the United States face Colombia at the home of the San Francisco 49ers American football team.

The tournament will conclude with a final at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on June 26, drawing a line under what is arguably the biggest tournament held in the United States since the 1994 World Cup.

Billed as a celebration of football across the Americas, 10 South American teams and six teams from the CONCACAF (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) region make up the field.

For organizers, the mere fact that the tournament is taking place at all is something of a triumph.