Argentina’s footballers are determined to bring joy back to the nation after a day of mourning marking the second anniversary of Diego Maradona’s death, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said on Friday.
Ex players and fans at Globalism The Qatar Cup was commemorated in Qatar by Maradona on the occasion of the death of the 1986 World Cup winner from a heart attack in 2020 at the age of 60.
And after their shock 2-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Argentina’s players and coach vowed to turn things around against Mexico on Saturday to preserve their dream of lifting the World Cup for the third time.
“It’s a very sad day for everyone. If he’s watching us from heaven, tomorrow we hope we can bring him joy,” Scaloni said.
“It seems unbelievable that he is no longer here. It’s a day for all Argentines, but we hope that tomorrow will be a happy day.”
Maradona inspired Argentina to their last World Cup victory 36 years ago, when he was widely regarded as the best player of his generation.
“We keep in mind that, for us Argentines, he was a very important person in world football, and not just for us Argentines,” said Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez.
“We remember him in the best way. Today is a sad day for everyone and tomorrow we hope to give happiness.”
Argentina arrived in Doha on a 36-game unbeaten run and as one of the favorites to win the title.
However, after slipping to the Saudis, defeat to Mexico would see them eliminated from the tournament.
Players know they can’t afford to repeat their opening game.
“It was difficult but we are a united group, a strong group that knows what we want, we know about our opponents, we have already overcome many things,” said Martinez, who had two goals ruled out for offside against Brazil. The Saudis.
Asked if going out in the group stage would be the biggest disaster in the history of Argentine football, Martinez insisted that the idea had not occurred to anyone in the team.
“We haven’t talked about it. There’s no pressure. We trust our work, in what we do, in each of us. We’re very calm,” he said.
Mexico winger Hirving Lozano said his team would be encouraged by Argentina’s shock defeat.
“Saudi Arabia’s result against Argentina was very surprising, although I think it was because of the way Saudi Arabia played, they played very well,” he said.
“It’s very motivating but like all games we respect our opponents, we’ll try to do it the best way we can against Argentina.”
And while much focus will be on Argentina’s last chance, Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said it was a crucial match for his team, which drew 0-0 with Poland in its first match.
“The necessities are not very different, we also need a result tomorrow, it’s essential for both teams,” said Martino.
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