FOOTBALL: Pekerman restores panache of champions to Argentina
Friday 11 February 2005
The world rankings published by Fifa, the game's international governing body, show Argentina behind Brazil and, bizarrely, France. On present form, however, a case can be made for the Albicelestes as the world's outstanding team, despite their loss to Brazil in last year's Copa America final. Olympic champions last summer, Argentina head the South American World Cup qualifying competition and took on Jurgen Klinsmann's resurgent German team here with all the confidence and panache which had deserted them.
Coaching Argentina is never straightforward, but Jose Pekerman appears to have what it takes following his appointment to succeed Marcelo Bielsa, who surprisingly resigned shortly after his team's Athens triumph. Having made it the hard way as a coach, working with junior teams at club level after his career as a journeyman midfielder was ended by injury, Pekerman, 55, led Argentina to three Under-21 world championships.
Some of the old guard have been pensioned off, with the 2002 World Cup captain, Juan Sebastian Veron, the most notable victim. Crespo, rediscovering his striking form with Milan after in-and-out seasons with Internazionale and Chelsea, was recalled here for his first international since June and responded with a masterful display, his late lob over Jens Lehmann preserving Pekerman's unbeaten record in his five games in charge.
"It was an excellent match between two teams who wanted to win," Pekerman said. "A match like this is very useful for the future." The coach had particular praise for his playmaker, Juan Roman Riquelme, and for Crespo, who scored Argentina's first equaliser from the penalty spot. "Crespo was effective, but he also knows how to play for the team, working hard, and he did that here."
One of the keys to the recent success is the excellence of the 26-year- old Riquelme, who was given few opportunities by Bielsa. Pekerman has placed his faith in the Villarreal midfielder, whose form alongside his international colleague, Juan Pablo Sorin, has taken the unfashionable Spanish club into the upper reaches of La Liga.
One major nettle Pekerman must grasp is what to do with Carlos Tevez, the outstanding player at the Olympics, who joined Brazilian club Corinthians from Boca Juniors last year for $18m (pounds 9.7m). Saddled with the burden of being labelled "the next Maradona", Tevez has rarely been out of the news as a result of his colourful private life. Tevez, 21, expressed public disappointment when Pekerman dropped him last year and was not in the squad here.
The formidable line-up of Argentinians earning their living in Europe gives hope for the World Cup, but Pekerman said: "We need this generation of new players to understand that the senior team have not won anything for years. We must ratify all that with results, because that is what counts."
Latest in Sport
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...
£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...
£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...
£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...