This article titled “Argentina’s Jorge Sampaoli ‘begs forgiveness’ with World Cup in balance” was written by Stuart James at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, for The Guardian on Friday 22nd June 2018 03.48 Asia/Kolkata
Jorge Sampaoli accepted full responsibility for Argentina’s humiliating defeat against Croatia, which leaves them on the brink of elimination from the World Cup, and said he “begs for forgiveness” from the supporters that turned on him. The Argentina coach described his players as “emotionally broken” after they conceded a farcical opening goal following a dreadful blunder from Willy Caballero, but he refused to blame the Chelsea goalkeeper for a 3-0 defeat in which Lionel Messi was largely anonymous.
With Croatia now through to the last 16, Argentina have to beat Nigeria in their final group game on Tuesday to have any chance of qualifying for the second phase. Even that may not be enough, however, after they suffered their heaviest defeat in the group stage of a World Cup since 1958.
Asked what he would say to the Argentina supporters who voiced their displeasure towards the end of the game, Sampaoli replied: “I would beg for their forgiveness, especially those Argentina supporters who made such a great effort to be here. And I repeat what I said, I’m responsible. I was just as dreamy-eyed as any fan before. So I’m hurt. I did the best job I could and I quite simply did not find a way to give them what they wanted.”
Although Sampaoli claimed it was “not realistic to put the burden” on Caballero for the goal he gifted to Ante Rebic with his awful attempt to play out from the back, he admitted it was a turning point in the match in terms of the mental fragility of his team, with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic going on to score again for Croatia. “After they scored, we kind of lost our way and we were emotionally broken,” Sampaoli said. “We didn’t have any football arguments to make to change the course of events.”
Sampaoli defended Messi after he was asked to compare his contribution at this World Cup with Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored four times. “I think Cristiano is a great player but right now we shouldn’t compare these two players,” Sampaoli said. “The reality of the Argentina squad clouds Leo’s brilliance.”
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