By Luis Ampuero
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – The Argentina-Brazil World Cup qualifier was postponed less than an hour before kick off on Thursday due to heavy rain that left the pitch waterlogged and fans in traffic unable to reach the ground, Brazilian officials said.
The match will now take place at the same Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires on Friday at 9pm local time (0000 GMT).
“We met with match officials and the Argentine representatives and there’s no way the game can go on,” Gilmar Rinaldi, assistant Brazil coach told reporters at the stadium.
“It wouldn’t just be hard to play good football, there is hail and lightning and the forecast is that it will get worse.
“The players could be at risk and the referee decided to postpone the game,” Rinaldi added.
“We agreed that it will be played at the same time tomorrow.”
The match was one of the most eagerly anticipated encounters in Thursday’s third round of South American qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.
Both sides have struggled so far in their quest to reach Russia in 2018 with Argentina failing to find the net in their opening two matches and Brazil losing one, against Chile, and winning one, against traditional whipping boys Venezuela.
Five-time world champions Brazil are fifth in the 10-team table, while Argentina are eighth. Four teams qualify automatically for World Cup, while the fifth goes into a playoff.
Argentina will be without their three main strikers for Friday’s match, with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez all injured.
Brazil will be at full strength and are welcoming back talisman Neymar after a four-match suspension.
(Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Greg Stutchbury and Ken Ferris)