Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni praised his side’s personality after their tense qualification to the semifinals of the World Cup on penalties after the 120-minute play against the Netherlands ended 2-2.
“We have a spirit that means we know how to face every moment. I don’t think we deserved to go to penalties, but the team was able to get through a strange second half,” said Scaloni.
“This team has a will. It has youth and pride and never gives anything up as lost,” he said.
“I don’t know how many tests of character we have come through in this world Cup, we lost our first game, we found it hard against Mexico and today, the way the Dutch hit long balls obliged us to defend. We had the spirit to know what we want and that is what this team has,” he added.
“The last 12 minutes were really hard and it didn’t work out for us as they equalized, but this team always knows what it has to do,” insisted the Argentina coach.
The coach admitted he had suffered during the game, but refused to talk about referee Mateu Lahoz.
“We knew we had Angel di Maria for extra time and we always thought about attacking. We always tried to attack, although the game was so close that it was difficult. The numbers show we had more shots and we are satisfied,” continued Scaloni.
He said after the Netherlands had equalized in the 10th minute of injury time, “we knew that if we could play our football, it would change again and they would be satisfied with penalties.”
“We knew who would take the penalties and that is really good when everyone wants to take a penalty. We also knew Emiliano (Martinez) could save one, so all we had to do was decide the order of the penalty takers,” commented Scaloni.
“Playing all seven games is the objective, but now we have to take the next step against a tough rival Croatia,” he said. ■