MONTEVIDEO: Argentina coach Gerardo Martino says Tuesday’s (Wednesday in Manila) 2018 World Cup qualifier at Colombia is a must-win for his injury-ravaged side after they were left frustrated by 10-man Brazil.
The result Friday in Buenos Aires — where arch rivals Brazil came from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw — meant Argentina are winless after three games of South America’s marathon qualifying campaign, with only two points from a possible nine.
“We have to win in Colombia,” Martino said after watching his side — shorn of a glut of injured stars including Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero — turn in a dominant performance against Brazil but fail to come away with maximum points.
“We do not need to look at the table to know that we need to win,” he said.
“Colombia away is not going to be same game as Brazil,” he added. “We need to try to take control of the game but I believe we will face a team that is going to attack more.”
Colombia, sixth in the 10-team South American table, will be without Atletico Madrid striker Jackson Martinez, who injured an ankle in the 1-1 draw at Copa America champions Chile last week.
Carlos Sanchez and Santiago Arias will also be unavailable due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
Midfielder Edwin Cardona said the Colombians are well aware of the threat posed by Argentina, even without Messi.
“They have great players,” he told reporters. “Even with several absentees they have quality players to replace them.
“Argentina are going to have the ball and will be a little more offensive… Ezequiel Lavezzi and Angel Di Maria are quite explosive. The key will be to keep the ball.”
Brazil — whose campaign also got off to a rocky start with defeat at Chile — will be trying to solidify their grasp on fourth place in the table when they host Peru at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.
Ecuador, who top the table with a maximum nine points, will seek to add another victory before qualifying breaks until March when they visit Venezuela, who have yet to win a point.
Chile, second in the standings with seven points, can expect a feisty challenge when they visit Uruguay, who have six points from their first three matches.
Both opened qualifying with back-to-back victories before Chile were held to a 1-1 draw by Colombia on Thursday as Uruguay fell 2-1 to Ecuador.
The two teams met in a bruising Copa America quarter-final, when Chile sent nine-man Uruguay crashing out amid controversy over provocative tactics.
Chile defender Gonzalo Jara was later thrown out of the tournament over his attempt to shove his finger into the backside of Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani — who was sent off for retaliating.
Chile midfielder Marcelo Diaz has urged his team to ignore any attempts by Uruguay to reignite tensions.
“What happened between Jara and Cavani is part of football. We will not fall prey to any provocations and will try to bring home the points,” he said.
Uruguay captain Diego Godin denied that Uruguay players are still angry about the Copa America match.
“This is not a ‘rematch,’” he said.