Argentina interim coach, Lionel Scaloni, has expressed his delight after La Albiceleste played with remarkable panache and as a team to maul Iraq 4-0 in their Thursday’s matchday-one match of a four-team tournament in Riyadh that also features Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
Scaloni is still hoping that five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi returns to the Argentina team after last featuring in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Second Round defeat to France, but is happy that his team adopting a different approach without the superstar is yielding positive results.
“I hope Messi is in the future, he is the best player in the world,” Scaloni told journalists during his post-match press conference at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh.
“If he is not, we should try to play as a team, that is the idea, that we play as a team and we are difficult to beat.”
Scaloni fielded a somewhat experimental side without the likes of Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.
Lautaro Martinez scored his first goal for Argentina on his full debut, while Roberto Pereyra, German Pezzella and Franco Cervi were also on target, the first international goal for each of them.
Reflecting on the match, Scaloni – who bemoaned the state of the pitch – said: “It was a complicated game because of all the connotations. I saw the team quite tired. There was a lot of travel and a single training.”
Former international Scaloni is in the hot seat on a caretaker basis following the departure of Jorge Sampaoli after Russia 2018 and the 40-year-old is not sure what his future holds.
“I am [in charge] now until November and then I am not,” Scaloni added. “I hope these players can continue playing in the national team. I hope whoever comes, if he wants, can add these men with the other great players. The idea is that many of these guys, why not all, continue in the national team.”
Next up for Argentina is a mouth-watering showdown with South American rivals Brazil on Tuesday.