Argentina recorded a 1-0 victory against Venezuela in an international friendly match at the Saltlake Stadium, Kolkata. FC Porto centre back Nicolás Otamendi scored the lone goal of the evening in front of 85,000 cheering Indian fans.
New Argentine coach Alejandro Sabella was full of praise for his team after the match, as they managed to overcome an improving Venezuelan team in Sabella’s debut match in charge of the “Albiceleste”.
“I am really happy to start out with a win,” Sabella told the media at the post-match press conference. “We have been together only for three days. We will need a lot of time on the training field for better understanding. There were a lot of positives to be taken from our performance although we were a little slow in counter-attacks. We need to think out ways to improve on that too.”
Superstar Lionel Messi had an excellent game to the delight of the fanatic Indian fans, who turned up in numbers to see their hero in action. The Barcelona star created many chances and set up the winner after a goal-less first half.
Coach Sabella knows about the importance of Messi, who had his first game as captain of the national side.
“Messi is the best player not just for me, the team but the entire world. And I think he showed that again today,” Sabella said. “In our history in every generation we get a great player in Argentina, now Leo is that exceptional player. Everywhere he goes there is a crowd to see him because it can be a life-changing experience.”
Meanwhile, Venezuela coach Cesar Farias felt that his side is on the right track for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
“Throughout the match we had impeccable order, especially in the backline. We almost had as many scoring opportunities as Argentina,” Farias said.
“I tried out a couple of new players and our style of counter-attacking threatened the Argentine side. For the qualifiers, we’ll bring in a few senior players who didn’t play today and that would definitely add to our side,” he added.
1-Sergio Romero; 2-Martín Demichelis, 3-Pablo Zabaleta, 5-Marcos Rojo, 6-Nicolás Otamendi; 14-Javier Mascherano, 7-Ángel di María, 11-Ricardo Álvarez (61′ 23-Javier Pastore), 8-Lucho González (68′ 15-José Ernesto Sosa); 10-Lionel Messi [C], 9-Gonzalo Higuaín (74′ 16-Sergio Agüero)
1-Rafael Romo; 3-Fernando Amorebieta, 4-Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, 6-Gabriel Cichero, 16-Roberto Rosales; 21-Agnel Flores, 8-Tomás Rincón [C], ?-Frank Feltscher (68′ 10-Yohandry Orozco), 11-César Eduardo González; 7-Nicolas Fedor, 23-José Salomón Rondón