East Rutherford (United States) (AFP) – Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said failure was not an option as his team aims to erase the bitter memory of back-to-back major final defeats when it faces Chile in the Copa America Centenario final here Sunday.
The Argentinians take on Chile at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford bidding to end a 23-year trophy drought following agonizing near-misses in the 2014 World Cup and last year’s Copa America.
A determined Martino told reporters that Argentina had already overcome their biggest pre-tournament concern, which had been to ensure that they reached Sunday’s final to have another crack at silverware.
“The biggest burden was getting to this situation rather than playing the final,” Martino said.
“Going through the same thing was not easy and it was a big achievement; it took a lot to get here in the final again.
“The only thing to worry about now is winning tomorrow’s game. The people want it, the players all want it, we all want it. And that’s why we’re willing to give our all to turn around last year’s result.”
Argentina were beaten on penalties by Chile in last year’s final in Santiago after 120 minutes finished level at 0-0.
The match was another shattering loss for Lionel Messi and his teammates, who only 12 months earlier had suffered an extra-time defeat to Germany in the World Cup final.
Asked what conclusions he had taken from last year’s defeat Copa America final, Martino replied: “What we can’t do is lose another final. That’s the biggest conclusion to draw.”
Martino, meanwhile, paid tribute to Messi’s scintillating form en route to the final, saying the Barcelona superstar had reproduced his best club form at the international level as a result of stability in the squad.
“Really I think for a long time now he has been performing very well with the national team,” Martino said.
“He has had many more positive performances than not so good performances. I don’t think we’ve done anything differently.
“He has been playing with the same people for a long time. That makes him feel happy, he’s in a good place — the way he was feeling in Brazil (at the World Cup), the way he was last year, the way he’s playing right now.”
Martino and Argentina are, meanwhile, bracing for a severe test against the reigning South American champions.
“Chile develops their game well and they apply pressure — those are the fundamental weapons that they brandish and that’s what makes them one of the best teams in the world,” Martino said.