Tears of sadness in the Argentine camp after the disgrace against Saudi Arabia at the World Cup (1-2). Tears of happiness are there in Saudi Arabia, where the person who initiated the mega stunt had just recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon. And Lionel Messi? The star of the World Cup realizes that his dream and that of the whole of Argentina is already hanging by a thread after the 1-2 embarrassment. “There are no excuses. Now we have to show that this is a real group.”
Where the Arab players couldn’t believe their luck, the Argentinians, bombed to the favourites, couldn’t get rid of a smile after their horror start. Former Ajax players Nicolás Tagliafico and Lisandro Martínez left the mixed zone with their chins to their chests, thanking them kindly for the request to declare defeat. Lionel Messi did not hide as captain. “It is a defeat that hurts. There are no excuses.”
The biggest eye-catcher at the World Cup – despite a cashed-in penalty – could not prevent the end of the Argentinians’ unbeaten run of 36 matches. The disgrace threatens an early elimination, while this should be the World Cup of Messi and Argentina, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner realizes. “We will be more united than ever. This group is strong and has shown it. It’s a situation we haven’t experienced in a long time. Now we have to show that this is a real group.”
Afterwards, emotions were also raging in all directions in the mixed zone. An Argentinian reporter was even in tears, while the Arab ‘journalists’ flew into each other’s arms in disbelief. The players of the winning country soon passed by, all with a wide grin and one or two with Arabic music in his backpack.
One of the few English-speaking Saudis initiated one of the greatest World Cup stunts ever by scoring the equalizer with a diagonal shot. “I honestly can’t describe how this feels,” said Saleh Al-Shehri, who had just recovered from a torn Achilles tendon. “I was injured for five months. I’ve done a lot of work to be fit in time for the World Cup. The fact that you immediately get this goal as a reward is unbelievable. This was worth the hard work.”
What does this resounding victory mean for Saudi Arabia, the neighboring country of Qatar, which was supported in the Lusail Stadium by ten thousand supporters? “We are a country that can achieve anything. I hope we can continue at this World Cup and achieve something fantastic,” said Al-Shehri, who is under contract with Al-Hilal.
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