Doha: Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has said that the World Cup victory in Qatar will inspire superstar Lionel Messi to continue his career at the international level. After leading the team to the dream match, he also shared the hope that Messi could play in the 2026 World Cup as well.
Argentina and France drew 3-3 at the end of extra time in a thrilling final at the Lucille Stadium which was decided on penalties. Messi scored a double. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved two kicks in the shootout as Argentina secured their third World Cup trophy and first since 1986.
“We have to reserve a place for him (Messi) in the next World Cup as well. If he wants to play, he will be with us,” Xinhua news agency quoted Scoloni as saying.
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Messi has repeatedly stated that this World Cup will be the last of his career. Despite winning the 2021 Copa America and now football’s most valuable prize, Scaloni suggested Messi would still be motivated to continue his international career beyond Qatar.
“He deserves more to decide if he wants to play with Argentina or what to do with his career,” said Scaloni.
“It’s a pleasure to train him and see his teammates play with him. Everything he passes on to his teammates is like nothing I’ve ever seen. He is a player who gives a lot to his teammates.”
Scaloni said that the support of the fans throughout the tournament had been a constant motivation and dedicated the victory to the people of Argentina.
“This team plays for the fans of Argentina,” he said.
“The players played to the best of their abilities. They played by knowing what to do. We are very happy and proud. Today we are world cup champions and deservedly so. We are going to celebrate in Argentina. That’s the first thing I have to do now.”
Scaloni revealed that his starting line-up for the final was drawn up just 90 minutes before kick-off – including the decision to deploy Angel Di Maria on the left wing.
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He especially praised goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Before his performance in the shootout, Randall Kolo Muani’s shot was fatally blocked in the last minute of the game.
“(Emiliano) told his teammates he was going to save some penalties and that gave them confidence going into the shootout,” Scaloni said.
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