‘Still one step to go’ for Argentina coach Scaloni after semifinal win

Argentina’s forward #10 Lionel Messi is embraced by Argentina’s coach #00 Lionel Scaloni after their team’s victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
DOHA — Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni admitted it was difficult not to get carried away after his side beat Croatia in Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal but called on his side to quickly gather their focus for the final.اضافة اعلان

Captain Lionel Messi scored a penalty and then set up two goals for Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez as Argentina won 3-0 at Lusail Stadium to advance to Sunday’s final against either holders France or Morocco.

“The truth is that the result maybe didn’t reflect the game. I think we deserved to win but maybe not by such a margin,” said Scaloni, whose side took the lead from a penalty awarded just after the half-hour mark for a foul on Alvarez.

Scaloni said he expected his side to find the going tough against a Croatian midfield inspired by Luka Modric.

“They controlled possession at first, but we knew that could happen because they have three top-class midfielders who have been playing together for years and know each other very well.”

“We understood that was how the game would go, but the game opened up with the penalty.”

Argentina’s players celebrated wildly with their fans who made up the majority of the crowd in Doha, and Scaloni added: “We celebrated because it is exciting to be in the final, but there is still one step to go. This is something to enjoy but it’s over now, so we need to move on to the next one.”

The 44-year-old Scaloni is now hoping to win the World Cup just 18 months after leading Argentina to victory in the Copa America in Brazil.

It will be Argentina’s sixth World Cup final but the former defender rejected comparisons with illustrious coaches of the past, including Cesar Luis Menotti, Carlos Bilardo, and Alejandro Sabella, who led them to the 2014 final.

“I can’t compare myself with other coaches,” he said.

“It fills me with pride to get to the final and represent the national team. But I can’t put myself on the same level as them. I just feel privileged to be in the final.”

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