Lionel Messi will captain Argentina for the first time in Tuesday’s World Cup encounter with Greece, sources close to the team said.

Coach Diego Maradona has decided to give the skipper’s armband to the Barcelona striker two days before his 23rd birthday, Argentina’s La Nacion daily reported on Monday, quoting the sources.

Messi takes over from midfielder Javier Mascherano, who is being rested by Maradona. The decision comes as a surprise to Argentinian football commentators, who had expected the captaincy to go to the veteran Juan Sebastian Veron.

Maradona is set to make several changes to his side for the match in Polokwane.

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