No excuses for defeat, but have faith in us, says Lionel Messi
Argentine’s mercurial striker Lionel Messi assured his disappointed fans worldwide that the team is not sweating over their shock 1-2 defeat to Saudi Arabia in the Group C World Cup opener at the Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.
Goals from Saudi’s Saleh Al-Sehri and the skillful Salem Al Dawsari saw the Gulf nation register one of the biggest upsets in World Cup football after Messi had scored off an early penalty to give the two-time champions the lead.
“We never expected this. We expected to get the three points, but things happen for a reason. We have to prepare hard for what’s coming. We have to win,” said a composed Messi at the post-match press conference.
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The skipper insisted that his World No.3 side, touted to be the favourites to win this tournament, did not take their much-lower ranked (World No.51) opponents lightly and in fact, expected them to play well. “We knew that they will be playing like that. We knew they will be holding their [back] line like that. But they rushed us and we ended up not being comfortable. Sometimes, the game takes a hold of you and you end up doing things differently,” he added.
Messi finally urged the Argentine fans to keep the faith. “We have no excuses for this defeat, but I want our supporters to have faith. We will not leave them stranded. This [defeat] is a situation that we haven’t been through in a long time [Argentina arrived here on a 36-match unbeaten streak]. We have to analyse things and turn our attention to our next game against Mexico [Sunday, November 27],” he added.
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