Argentinian coach's dig over 'absurd' Socceroos World Cup advantage
Argentinian coach Lionel Scaloni has appeared to admit shock at facing Australia in the round of 16 at the World Cup, before taking aim over the scheduling advantage Graham Arnold and the Socceroos face. The Socceroos joined a number of teams to shock the FIFA World Cup and advance to the knockout stages after finishing above Tunisia and Denmark.
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And a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina will face off with the Socceroos for a spot in the quarter-finals. Australia hasn't made the knockout stages since the golden generation in 2006 and were not expected to get out of a group containing defending champions France and a dangerous Denmark outfit.
And Argentinian coach Lionel Scaloni appeared surprised to be taking on Australia. When a reporter asked whether he expected to be taking on the Socceroos, he asked: "Are you Australian?"
He smiled, before asking: “Were you also surprised with this win?” While Scaloni didn't give much away, he later offered a more neutral answer.
“I wasn’t surprised honestly because they are a good national team,” he said in Doha. “They had a good qualifying campaign, they were fourth in the qualifying campaign and then you were able to qualify for this World Cup in the repechage (playoffs).
“They are a good national team, they have tradition in World Cups and that makes them difficult . . we don’t need to be overly confident, we need to try and play our best football and then we’ll see what happens.”
Scaloni went on to praise the wide men of Australia (Matthew Leckie and Craig Goodwin) after standout performances in the group stages.
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Despite finishing top of the group, Argentina faced adversity along the way. They lost to Saudi Arabia in the first match, which resulted in the team bouncing back and winning 2-0 against both Mexico and Poland.
Argentina and Australia both face a short turnaround between their last group stage match with star forward Angel di Maria reportedly set to start off the bench due to injury.
And when pressed on the team, the coach hit out at the timing of their 10pm clash against Poland. ”Let’s wait for today and wait for tomorrow, the last day," Scaloni said.
“Even though it might seem absurd, Australia played at 6pm in second and we played at 10pm in first. We went to bed at 4am and that has an impact, especially if you have a game in 48 hours.
“So yesterday it was all about recovery and being with the family and today is when we will have a clear picture on Di Maria... we hope he will be fine and will be able to play but I can’t tell you at the moment because we don't have a clear picture.”
The Socceroos will take on Argentina 6am (AEST) on Sunday.
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