Copa America 2016: Diego Maradona delivers ultimatum to Argentina ahead of final
Argentina are set to play their third major final in as many years when the face Chile in the 2016 Copa America Centenario and they are already under pressure from the country's biggest football legend. Diego Maradona has come out and told the squad that they need not bother coming home if they do not win the trophy.
The tournament, currently being held in the United States of America, saw Argentina reach the final after beating the hosts 4-0 in the semi-final. On the other hand, Chile beat Colombia 2-0 to reach the final. The results see both teams reach the final yet again – a repeat of the 2015 Copa America where Chile beat Argentina on penalties to lift the trophy on home soil.
The loss was a bitter one for Argentina who had lost their second final in two years after losing to Germany in extra-time in the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. And Maradona, who won the FIFA World Cup in 1986 with the Albiceleste, feels it is time for his former side to win the trophy when they take on Chile at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on 26 June.
Don’t come back if you don’t win: Maradona
Speaking to Canal 5 Noticias, an Argentine news channel, Maradona was optimistic of his team’s chances ahead of the final.
“Of course, I think we’ll win,” said the former manager of the Argentine national team. Maradona had managed the side for two years between 2008 and 2010 before he was ousted following their quarter-final exit in the 2010 World Cup.
But he had another dire message for Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino going into the clash. “But if you don’t win, don’t come back,” Maradona said, even though he has never won the trophy himself.
The Albiceleste have not won the Copa America since they last won the competition in 1993. They also went through a 32-year trophy drought in the competition when they failed to win a single title between 1959 and 1991.
Argentina have already beaten Chile once in the tournament, winning 2-1 in the Group D opener thanks to second-half goals from Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega. While their talismanic striker Lionel Messi came into the tournament carrying an injury, he has still been the country’s top goalscorer in spite of being used sparingly.
Messi is currently on five goals – one goal behind Chile’s Eduardo Vargas in the race for the Golden Boot. His compatriot Gonzalo Higuaín is also in the running with four goals in the tournament so far.