Calcutta, June 24: With one point in 2 games and 1 match to go, Argentina are on the brink of being eliminated from the World Cup and Diego Maradona has blamed their coach Jorge Sampaoli for the team’s performances.
The 57-year-old has also put the Argentine FA in the firing line, for mismanaging the national team.
“People believed that Sampaoli was going to solve the problems with computers, drones or with 14 assistants… That is not how it is happening,” Maradona told Venezuelan news channel Telesur.
“Argentina don’t know what they play for, they have no solutions at all, not in the midfield, in defence or in attack. On Thursday, Argentina didn’t create a wall, didn’t hold the ball up and didn’t touch the ball.
“The Argentina FA is run by people who don’t know anything about football. They improvise, lack planning and have left the team adrift.”
The 1986 World Cup winner went on to back Lionel Messi, who has been harshly criticised following the recent Albiceleste performances.
“As everyone today blames Messi, I have to say that he played as he had to play and as he could play,” he added. “It is difficult to solve your teammates’ problems.”
Croatia have already qualified to the last 16, while Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria as set to compete for the second qualifying spot.
Meanwhile, Maradona has demanded access to Argentina’s training ground in a bid to heal the rifts that have torn apart Sampaoli’s squad.
Beleaguered Sampaoli has been at war with a number of his top players, including striker Sergio Aguero.
Now Maradona wants permission to speak to the squad in a bid to lift their morale ahead of their decisive third group game against Nigeria.
Maradona said: “I played with my life whenever I got the Argentine shirt. Legends like Simeone, Redondo, Ruggeri, Canniggia, Filol, Luque and Gallego did exactly the same.
“I want to be able to talk to the players and make them understand what it means to wear the national shirt.”
Sampaoli called a clear-the-air meeting with his squad after Nigeria’s 2-0 victory over Iceland on Friday left Argentina needing to beat the Africans in St Petersburg on Tuesday.
Argentine FA president Claudio Tapia addressed the players before Sampaoli, captain Lionel Messi and vice-captain Javier Mascherano made an emotional plea for the squad to resolve their differences.
Aguero spoke out against Sampaoli following the defeat against Croatia when he suggested the Argentine coach didn’t know what he was doing. And there have been suggestions that several senior players have asked Tapia to sack the manager before the final group game.