LA SERENA, Chile: Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said on Friday (Saturday in Manila) it will be “unforgivable” if the country’s current golden generation fail to win a major tournament as they prepared to launch their Copa America campaign.
The Argentinians boast a star-studded squad led by Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi which includes some of the most potent attackers in world football. But they have not won a major title since the Copa America in 1993.
“It would be unforgivable if this generation of players did not end up winning a title,” Martino told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Group B game against Paraguay.
As well as Messi, the embarrassment of riches includes Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, Juventus’s Carlos Tevez, Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria of Manchester United.
Factor in the defensive prowess of players such as Pablo Zabaleta, Javier Mascherano and Nicolas Otamendi and it is easy to see why the Argentines head into Saturday’s Group B game against Paraguay as tournament favorites.
However the phenomenal strength in depth of the Argentina squad cannot mask the fact that the South American powerhouses have gone 22 long years without winning a major title.
Martino acknowledged the trophy drought on Friday as he spoke to reporters at Argentina’s La Serena training camp.
Martino however believes Argentina are perfectly placed to end the jinx, stating that his squad was in a bouyant mood as they prepared to face Paraguay.
“We’re in a good place, and we’re ready to have a good campaign. We have no complaints at all,” Martino said, referring to the atmosphere in the camp.
Martino also assured fans that captain Messi was also bristling with confidence on the eve of Argentina’s opener.
“He’s in excellent form,” Martino said, citing Messi’s role in Barcelona’s treble-winning season in Spain.
Argentina went agonizingly close to winning last year’s World Cup, losing 1-0 in the final against Germany after extra-time to finish runners-up.
Their last major tournament win came in the 1993 Copa America.
Group B also includes defending champions Uruguay, who play Argentina next Tuesday, and Caribbean minnows Jamaica.