Pablo Zabaleta is hoping Argentina can atone for their heavy defeat to Nigeria when they take on Poland in a friendly in Warsaw tomorrow. The Manchester City defender captained his country in the 4-1 loss to the Super Eagles last Wednesday and does not want the team to repeat such a poor result.
"The group has been affected by the defeat. We have been criticised a lot, but in difficult moments we must be strong," Zabaleta said. "We have a very important match ahead and we can recover our form as a team and as a group."
Argentina are warming up for the Copa America on home soil next month. In order to test some players, coach Sergio Batista called up an under-25 squad for the Nigeria and Poland matches as he builds towards the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil.
The boss was angry with Polish journalists who criticised him for having not named the most important stars: "No player of my team came to Warsaw to go for a walk. This is a lack of respect to them. Most of the players in this squad play in Europe. This is my decision. This is a project towards 2014. Maybe some players are not starting at their club teams, but I know they have what it takes."
Poland coach Franciszek Smuda is taking Argentina seriously in spite of the absentees. "They are not worldwide-known, but most of them play in European teams so it proves their quality," he said. "We know Argentina are always a strong team, but they should respect our team too. If they feel overconfident, they may be surprised by our football."