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Lionel Messi's Argentina to play Nigeria and Ivory Coast in March exhibitions during China tour

Inter Miami's Lionel Messi warms up before the Riyadh Season Cup soccer match between Inter Miami and Al Hilal at Kingdom Arena Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. (AP Photo)

Argentina will play exhibition games against Nigeria and Ivory Coast in China next month, making it likely Lionel Messi will miss Inter Miami's Major League Soccer game at the New York Red Bulls on March 23.

The Argentina Football Association said the Albiceleste will play Nigeria at Hangzhou and Ivory Coast at Beijing during a tour of China from March 18-26. The dates of the matches will be announced later.

Argentina, the defending world and South American champion, opens the Copa América against Canada or Trinidad and Tobago on June 20 at Atlanta.

Miami, starting its first full season with Messi, begins its MLS season at Salt Lake on Feb. 21. The match at the Red Bulls is the team's only game during the international fixture period, when clubs are required to release players to national teams.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer