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Mascherano, Argentina's captain without an armband

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Posted: Monday, July 7, 2014 2:11 pm

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Copa America, 2011: Argentina's Javier Mascherano hands the captain's armband to Lionel Messi after being sent off late in regulation time in the quarterfinal against Uruguay. Argentina loses the ensuing penalty shootout as the host nation is eliminated from the tournament.

Since that bitter moment, Messi has held on to the captaincy of Argentina, but Mascherano remains the inspirational voice in the locker room.

Known as "jefecito," or little boss, the 5-foot-6-inch (171-centimeter) defensive midfielder has fired up Argentina for what has become its best World Cup run since 1990.

As Argentina prepares to face Netherlands in the World Cup semifinals, Mascherano says: "We're in a place where Argentina hasn't been for a long time. These opportunities come only so often and you can't let them go by."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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