Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Scaloni to remain Argentina boss beyond Copa America

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Jun 2024

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Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni insists he is fully committed to managing the side for as long as he is wanted ahead of their Copa America campaign.

Last year, the 46-year-old shocked world football when he revealed he was considering stepping down less than 12 months after leading his country to World Cup glory in Qatar.

It was reported by local media at the start of this year that Scaloni had agreed to remain in charge until the conclusion of the upcoming tournament in the United States, which sees the Albiceleste kickstart the month-long action against Canada on June 20.

Speaking ahead of warm-up friendlies against Ecuador and Guatemala, Scaloni said he expects to stay in charge until the Argentine Football Association President, Claudio Tapia, decides otherwise.

“I was not having a good year and I felt it was time to stop the ball,” Scaloni said, recalling his previous comments.

“Today I’m here with all my energy, which, to be honest, was not the case in November. As long as the president of the AFA wants me to be here, I’ll be here.”

Scaloni was able to provide an update on the fitness of Lionel Messi while also explaining his decision to leave Paulo Dybala out of his preliminary 29-man squad for the tournament.

Messi has scored 12 goals in his first 12 games of the MLS season with Inter Miami, last netting more in his first 12 outings of a league campaign with Barcelona in 2012-13 (17).

“The good thing is that Messi has had continuity in his team, especially after his injury,” Scaloni said.

“It’s important that he gets more minutes. We see him at full fitness. He will join the squad for training tomorrow.”

On Dybala, he added: “We have a special affection for him, but we always say that the team comes first. Given the circumstances and the fact that we had problems in some positions, we decided not to include him.

“We know what he has given us. With all the pain in the world, this is the decision we have taken.”

A series of minor injuries limited Dybala to 25 Serie A starts in 2023-24, though he still scored 13 goals for Roma to improve on his return of 12 from 2022-23.

Argentina face Ecuador on June 9 at Soldier Field in Chicago and Guatemala at Commanders Field in Washington five days later, as preparations intensify ahead of their Copa America title defence.

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