Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Argentina v Jamaica: Messi set for 100th cap

Lionel Messi will be looking to mark his 100th international cap in style as Argentina aim to secure progress to the quarter-finals of the Copa America in their Group B finale with Jamaica.

Messi will reach the milestone in Saturday’s clash in Vina del Mar with Argentina still not secure of qualification for the knock-out rounds despite Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Uruguay.

Argentina are top of Group B, level on four points with Paraguay and one ahead of third-placed Uruguay with that duo facing off in their last group game.

Barcelona’s superstar forward Messi has one goal to his name – which came from the penalty spot in the 2-2 draw with Paraguay – in the tournament but should be confident of adding to that tally against Jamaica.

However, Jamaica have been resolute in their 1-0 losses to Uruguay and Paraguay and captain Messi is prepared to face stubborn backlines throughout the competition.

Messi told La Nacion: “It was a tough start, with our mistakes against Paraguay, which cost us the victory, and the game against Uruguay, which played us really aggressively. I like to emphasise that Argentina has always come out to play football.

“After the draw against Paraguay we decided not to let it happen again. We talked a lot amongst ourselves. We know each other well, we pull together, and everyone knows that.

“I knew about the toughness of South American defences. We know that the games like that here. No problem, it’s something we have to face up to.”

With no points on the board, Jamaica cannot directly qualify for the last eight but do have a slim hope of qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams.

Any result other than a Paraguay win in their clash with Uruguay would end those hopes regardless of whether the Caribbean side pull off a shock victory over the 14-time champions.

Despite the size of the task facing Winfried Schafer’s team, captain Rodolph Austin said: We have nothing to lose, we just have to go out there with the same professionalism that we applied on the pitch against Uruguay and do our best.

“It is a very good team, but they are struggling at the moment with scoring.”

Centre-back Adrian Mariappa added: “Obviously, they have got some real world-class players in this team, so now it is to put our focus towards that and try and go out there and get a good result.”

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