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Argentina's under-23 team could play in Israel as part of a tour of the Middle East ahead of the Athen's Olympics in August, provided negotiations between the soccer associations of the two countries are successful.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, an avid soccer fan, received a proposition yesterday from his Croatian counterpart to hold an exhibition game between the two countries in Israel in mid-August. Israel also received offers yesterday from Kazakhstan, Belarus and Azerbaijan to play at Ramat Gan.

Argentina's under-23 team is one of two South American teams that made it through to the Olympics and several of the country's up-and-coming stars, including Boca Juniors' striker Franco Cangele and River Plate midfielder Louis Gonzalez, are on the team.

Olympic teams are allowed to field three over 23 players and Argentina has said that Valencia midfielder Pablo Aimar and striker Gabriel Batistuta, who has retired from the national team, but wants a shot at Olympic gold, will join the tour.

The Argentine FA is asking for $100,000 to play in Israel, but the match would generate revenues of over double that sum. Regardless of the cost, Israel is interested in hosting Argentina to prove to European soccer's governing body, UEFA, that the big soccer nations are willing to play in Israel despite the security situation.