UAE coach laughs off ‘avoiding Messi’ faux pas as Scaloni seeks to take WC pressure off Argentina

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Argentina will take on UAE in a warm-up match before the World Cup in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Argentina chose to start their preparation for the Qatar spectacle with a friendly encounter against one of the best teams in the region.

The UAE itself would have been a part of the showpiece event had they been lucky enough to beat Australia in the continental playoff.

They defeated South Korea and progressed as the third best finishers in the continental knock-out stage where they missed the flight to Qatar by a whisker. It will be a good experience for Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s men to rub shoulders with one of the most serious contenders for the title.

The South American champions have already arrived in the Arabian peninsula to prepare for the mega event to be held in Qatar form Nov.20.
Argentina have a star-studded line-up but their brightest star Lionel Messi has been in the spotlight since their arrival in the UAE. Messi will lead the Argentina charge at the Qatar World Cup.

It will be his fifth attempt to steer the Copa America champions to the title. Messi has won almost every laurels, medal, accolades and trophy that is there to win in football but one piece of silverware, which has eluded the former Barcelona and PSG star, is the glittering trophy of the World Cup.

He has failed to lay down his hands on the silverware and the closest that Argentina have gone under his leadership was their runner-up finish in 2014.

Last they won a World Cup was during the golden days of Diego Maradona in 1986. It has been 36 years since the wait for the World Cup triumph is still on.

 The UAE manager Arruabarrena played down the rumours of asking his player to be careful of injuring the opposition players, specially Messi.
 “It was just a joke which was interpreted in the wrong way. This game is very important for our future aspirations,” said the UAE coach.

Meanwhile, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni sought Tuesday to reduce the pressure on his fancied team at the World Cup in Qatar, insisting there are no guarantees in football.
La Albiceleste, who face the United Arab Emirates in a friendly in Abu dhabi on Wednesday before flying to Doha, are currently on a 35-game unbeaten run.

Scaloni, who guided Argentina to their first major trophy in 28 years at the last year’s Copa America, named a 26-man squad led by Lionel Messi on Friday.

“We don’t have pressure because at the end this is football, we’re going to play a football World Cup,” Scaloni told reporters in the UAE capital.
“We’re conscious of what football represents for Argentina but it’s a sport and that’s why we have to step on the pitch and do our own thing.

“We have to come out and play the way we know how to. And then there are a lot of unknowns.”
Scaloni used the example of the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea, where two-time world champions Argentina exited at the group stage.

“Despite the disappointment of losing, the people still recognised that the team was one of the best and they didn’t deserve to get knocked out of the World Cup,” he said.

“But football is like this and if we believe that we will win just by decree then that would be a mistake.

“And that has happened, not only with Argentina, but with other teams. We’re going to try to give our best and try to get as far as we can.”

Scaloni, 44, said he was confident that Roma forward Paulo Dybala would recover in time for the World Cup after being sidelined with a hamstring injury.

“We were very relaxed about it,” he said. “His club and the coach have taken the right steps, so we are very happy because he is a person who we really appreciate and deserves this opportunity.”

Messi and the rest of the squad held an open training session in front of a packed Al Nahyan stadium on Monday, where the Paris Saint-Germain star dazzled the crowd with his skills.

Argentina kick off their World Cup campaign against Saudi Arabia on November 22.
“We know Saudi Arabia well,” said Scaloni.

“We watched them a few days ago against Panama. It’s a very good team, a technically strong team with fast players, similar to the UAE.

“They will make things difficult for us. On top of that it is our first game of the World Cup, which is always difficult. But this is the World Cup and every game is difficult.”

Agencies

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