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Argentina fans confident ahead of Mexico clash: “keeping our heads will be essential”

Ahead of Argentina’s key Group C game against Mexico, AS USA caught up with some Albiceleste fans in Doha to gauge their mood after the defeat to Saudi Arabia.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Doha, Qatar - November 25, 2022 An Argentina fan holds up his drum showing an image of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi on the Doha Corniche REUTERS/Lee Smith

The story of the 2022 World Cup to date, is undeniably Argentina’s shock defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in Lusail. The Asian side not only ended the Albiceleste’s unbeaten run of 36 matches but also threw any Group C predictions out the window with many feeling that Mexico and Poland would be the contenders for second place with Lionel Scaloni’s side cruising into the Round of 16 as group winners.

A failure to respond after the second Saudi goal in Tuesday’s game is cited by a source of concern from Argentine media but despite the need to win both outstanding games against Mexico and Poland, the mood among the Argentina fans who talked to AS USA in Doha was incredibly positive.

Ignacio and Constanza Fernandez (La Plata)

Before we focus on the game against Mexico, how has your initial experience in Qatar been?

IF) It’s been very positive and I have to say and the local Argentine press were good ahead of the tournament in explaining key issues about the cultural differences so nothing has been a major shock or surprise. Getting into the country with the Hayya card was also a smooth process so everything has been fine.

Has the absence of alcohol been an issue as speaking to many Mexico fans, they feel that this has impacted on the atmosphere?

CF) It’s true that the atmosphere is very different compared to other World Cups and it’s bizarre to see Argentina fans sitting in cafes here all drinking tea!

Fans of Argentina
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Fans of ArgentinaMatthew Ashton - AMAGetty

Looking ahead to the game against Mexico, what would be the impact of a defeat as it’s unthinkable to imagine Argentina not making it through to the next phase?

IF) It would be a massive failure there is no doubt.

CF) We’re Gimnasia fans so we’re used to adversity and having to dig deep and we know how to prepare for these types of ‘battles’ and let’s not forget that we have in Messi, the best player in the world.

Argentina's forward #10 Lionel Messi (R) talks with Argentina's coach Lionel Scaloni (L)
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Argentina's forward #10 Lionel Messi (R) talks with Argentina's coach Lionel Scaloni (L) JUAN MABROMATAGetty

Have any Argentina fans started to question Scaloni?

IC) Not at all, the first half of Tuesday’s game wasn’t bad and we had bad luck in seeing VAR rule out two goals in the first half. The team lost it’s way a little after going behind and played in a disorganised manner but I believe if we keep our heads tonight and play in an organised manner, we’ll be too strong for Mexico.

Is there a tendency for Argentina to over-rely on Messi and when he has a bad game, the team does too?

IC) I think that may have been true in the past but now feel we’re more compensated as a team and there is more quality on the bench now with the likes of ‘Papu’ Gomez and other top players all able to offer something to the team.

Ignacio & Constanza Fernandez: Argentina fans
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Ignacio & Constanza Fernandez: Argentina fans

Javier Meynet (Progresso, Santa Fe)

How have Argentina fans responded to the defeat to Saudi Arabia?

JM) We’re fine in general and realise that it was a setback and that can happen to any team. Other World Cup winners have lost the first game so we now need to beat Mexico and I feel we are a better side than they are. The fans believe in the team and in Lionel Scaloni.

There seems to be a defiant sense of belief amongst the Argentine fans...

JM) Totally, Mexico and Poland drew and neither side looked that intimidating but of course we still have to go out there and win the game that’s evident.

Was overconfidence the problem in the opening game?

JM) Possibly, I think we the fans and maybe the team totally underestimated what Saudi Arabia could do and we saw what happened.

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