Manama: Argentina will not only qualify for the next football World Cup in Russia, but will also end a 20-year drought by winning the trophy, Armando Perez, the interim president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), said.
Argentina have won only one of their four qualifiers since Edgardo Bauza was appointed coach on August 1 and they languish in fifth place in the South American group with Paraguay and Chile right behind. Only four countries are guaranteed a place in the finals.
“We are going through a challenging phase, but we will overcome it and we will move forward thanks to deep commitment and outstanding dedication,” Perez told Gulf News in Manama. “We are very busy working in full transparency and we are taking great care to ensure the national team is not affected by the administrative problems we have at the institution.”
The team has played poorly in their last three qualifiers without their injured superstar Lionel Messi. The player had said he was quitting international football, but later reversed his decision to quit,
However, Perez said he had no role in Messi’s decision to return to the national team. “I am very clearly aware of the duties and responsibilities of the president of a club,” said Perez who was the chairman of Belgrano de Córdoba before he was chosen by the Normalisation Commission to oversee AFA through daunting challenges.
“When we selected the new coach, it was his duty to talk to Messi. However, we know Messi had already made for himself the decision to go back to the national team before he was contacted by Bauza, the national coach.”
This summer, Bauza was along other coaches on the shortlist of the coaches for the national team. “Diego Simeone was contacted, but he did not at that particular moment want to be in charge of the national team,” Perez said.
The poor results by the national team have triggered a movement for reflection, Perez said. “National teams are not clubs. There is a very short time to prepare a match, and I am convinced that people everywhere and regardless of the situation need time to work.
“Argentina will now need to work towards Russia 2018 in order to renew their challenge. Hence, we decided together to work with young Argentine football players, including Under-23 players, to see if we really have the chance to renovate the team and infuse fresh blood into the national selection, and this takes time,” he said.
“There is no doubt we will be the next world champions,” he said on an optimistic note.
Perez added that good organisation was crucial for success. “I believe that football is a game that requires a lot of things, including the best organisation. The results are those of a game, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
“Football is everything coming together, and I agree absolutely with Fifa president Gianni Infantino who thinks we should go not only after the results. It is important for us to think rationally and think in that direction. It is important to be a champion, but it is also very important to participate.”
Regarding the management crisis in Argentina’s governing body, Perez said that great efforts are being made to iron out the problems affecting the AFA.
Delegations from the Fifa and the South American Confederation Conmebol will be in Argentina next month to work on the draft of the new rules.
Perez, who insisted that the books were very clear said that as soon as the rules are approved, he will call for elections. “It could be by the end of this year,” he added.