AFA president Claudio TAPIA gave a great interview with Alejandro CASAR on La Nacion. Here are some of the most interesting quotes from the interview.
On the current state of the national team and challenges facing them as they prepare for the World Cup.
“Football has balanced out a great deal. I believe in the team. We have the best player in the world, but we have to help him out. He is not going to be able to do it by himself. MESSI is very mature now. To have him is a privilege but we have to be aware that this qualifying cycle was very difficult. He didn’t play in seven matches, it could have been 10 if the suspension was upheld. He’s the best and has the ambition and obligation to win the World Cup. This generation also feels that same obligation and as do we.
“We need time because Argentina was the only national team in the world to have three coaches during World Cup Qualifiers and qualify for the World Cup. The rest of the national teams have at least four years working together. So we are at a disadvantage. This is all about work. This is all about incorporating concepts, ideas, synchronization of style. This is not easy. We are coming off a couple of matches where we just changed a system of play.”
On Paulo DYBALA’s situation with the Argentina National Team.
“I am not sure if Paulo DYBALA will go, but I do believe in generational changes. That started occurring when Tata MARTINO was the coach. Unfortunately, due to sporting necessities, that didn’t happen. It’s not the same thing playing on the national team than with your club. DYBALA, like many young players, is the future of Argentine football. They are very important players in their leagues where they make a difference. I believe we should give them more experience. We have a sporting emergency right now, that is to win the World Cup. We have to have the players that have the necessary experience and know what they can do. That’s the coaching staff’s responsibility.”
The expectation on Argentina at the World Cup in Russia.
“A good World Cup will be to be amongst the top four. If we don’t get there, it is a bad one. A failure would be to get knocked out in the group stage.”
On his thought after Argentina’s 6-1 loss to Spain.
“I am calm after the loss to Spain. We had to think about that match knowing we weren’t playing against the Azzurri. If we didn’t have a penalty in our contract so steep, we would have just played Spain instead of both. I was more worried about the loss to Nigeria. In that match, we had 10 world class players. If you wanted to play to beat Spain, the lineup would have had to be a different one and the purpose of those matches was to see players that didn’t have the chance to be called up before.”
Why the AFA arranged two tough fixtures as part of the World Cup preparation.
“After the match vs. Singapore, we spoke with Jorge SAMPAOLI and he said he wanted to play competitive sides. We just fulfilled his wishes. If we had the chance to play against a less competitive side, we would have done it. We played Italy for the money were paid and had to keep in mind the penalty we would have had to pay, it was an obligation to play them.”
On the progress made by Jorge SAMPAOLI so far.
“I’m happy. SAMPAOLI has a contract until 2022. We understand that projects are what will bring Argentina back to what they always had. There’s no mystery, there’s no chance to improve short term. Things will only improve with work. You have to work towards the future, with long-term thinking, like the serious national teams do.”
On Pablo AIMAR’s role in the national team.
“AIMAR will accompany the national team, he is not SAMPAOLI’s assistant. That’s BECCACECE. Despite there being lots of pessimists, we plan to get to the final phases of the World Cup. It is a very quick tournament. BECCACECE is the sparring team’s coach as well as the U20.”
On the preparation of the coaching staff for the World Cup.
“The coaching staff will define the lists this week. (SAMPAOLI) has the idea of setting up the 23-man list. I think it’s better to have a 35-man list. But I do think he should begin talking to his 23 or the 27 he thinks should be there because you never know what might happen.”
On the prospect of Franco ARMANI being called for Argentina.
“I think ARMANI is a good goalkeeper, he has improved. Maybe in the first few matches he didn’t look too good but now he’s in tremendous form.”
On Javier MASCHERANO’s future with the National Team.
“I can’t analyze one player because a match was lost 6-1. It’s a team game. What you do know is what MASCHERANO offers and what he represents to the team. He’s a player with experience on our team. He’s been here since he was a kid and is important in the World Cup.”
On Gonzalo HIGUAIN being called up despite plenty of criticism.
“I think Gonzalo HIGUAIN is a great player. He’s played the last two World Cups. Goalscorers have streaks where they don’t score. But against Italy, he had a great match. He’s important to have in the World Cup.”
On the business aspect within the AFA and Argentina.
“We’ve asked for resources (money) well in advance. The national team is not good business. I believe that after we qualified and this administration was established, I believe that AFA has been able to renegotiate with those that anticipated that money, the TV rights owners. But the national team is not a great business. We are improving our finances via negotiations, by improving sponsorship deals and with clubs’ debts. I don’t think that finances will be fixed with a good World Cup. It helps, but it won’t save it.”
A big thanks to Juan ARANGO for translating the interview via his Twitter account. Do give him a follow.