How the AFA has let down Argentina's golden generation
The Golden generation of Argentinian football has not secured a trophy in international football despite reaching the finals of three important tournaments in the last three years and finishing as the second best on each occasion. After last night’s 3-0 loss to Brazil, it's clear that the Argentine national team is in deep trouble and this time, even Lionel Messi cannot rescue them.
Let’s go back to 2005 when Argentina’s U-20 teams made the nation proud by winning the U-20 World Cup in Netherlands. It was the beginning of something special in a great footballing nation. Lucas Biglia, Pablo Zabaleta, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Fernando Gago and Ezequiel Garay – players who have been regulars in the Argentine team in the last few years were part of that victorious team.
Two years later, when the team travelled to Canada, Sergio Aguero would still remain to lead that team to victory. Sergio Romero, Gabriel Mercado, Angel Di Maria, Ever Banega, Pablo Piatti and Federico Fazio are some of the established players from the present who were part of that team. With two U-20 World Cups in the span of a couple of years, Argentina were certainly set to have a large group of fantastic players, weren't they?
Unfortunately for the Argentines, a great team is not enough to win a major tournament as we have seen in the last three years. After a poor show in the Copa America of 2011, it was time for a change. In came Alejandro Sabella in order to rebuild the team. In came many of the players who led Argentina to victory in the two U-20 World Cups over half a decade ago.
Disappointing end to a fantastic World Cup campaign
After a great World Cup qualification campaign, Argentina came out on top of their group in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. However, nobody expected Argentina to go beyond the quarterfinals. Sabella had other plans as he transformed this Argentina team to what it was 20 years ago – a strong, gritty and defensively tough team to break down. The results speak for themselves as Argentina did not concede a single goal in regulation time during the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Despite losing out to Germany in the finals, Argentina were back on the global footballing map. Their identity as a defensive and gritty side was back. But it was time for Sabella to step down after his service and in came Martino. That's when things started to go down for Argentina – not on the pitch, but off it.
Controversy off the pitch
The Argentine Presidential elections had begun and with 75 members voting for two candidates, it turns out the votes were tied with 38 each. Surely one of the electors had put in a double vote and that was not reported. This incident was the beginning of a year-long saga which left Argentina without a President for a year.
During this time, Tata Martino’s team not only lost the Copa America in Chile but also finished second in the Copa America Centenario. The golden generation, with no trophy. It was clear that Tata Martino was not tactically strong. Had there been a working board, it wasn’t really difficult to recognise. All they needed was a change.
Over the last three years, three Argentine managers have been stealing the headlines in World football i.e., Diego Simeone, Mauricio Pochettino and Jorge Sampaoli. A working board could’ve struck a deal with at least one of the three above who have all stated their desire to manage the national team someday. However, it could prove to be too late before one of them comes in as the Golden generation could well be gone!