Opportunity knocks for Argentina striker Sergio Aguero, and the man known as El Kun has every intention of grabbing it with both hands. He is in fine form for club and country and, after a prolific season with Atletico Madrid in Spain, he exploded on to the FIFA World Cup™ stage with an impressive substitute performance against Korea Republic. Now he hopes to secure a starting berth in La Albiceleste’s final Group B match against Greece.
On the eve of the game, FIFA caught up with Aguero, Argentina’s leading goalscorer in qualifying, who spoke candidly about his own form, competition for places in the squad, and his relationship with his father-in-law and coach Diego Maradona.
FIFA: Sergio, the Argentina squad is full of quality in midfield and attack, players who ply their trade with Europe’s top clubs. What is it like being in a squad packed with so many talented individuals?
Sergio Aguero: Yes, that’s right, every player in the squad is an important player for his club but here everything is different. Once you get into the national team, everybody is on the same level. That’s a very positive thing because nobody carries responsibility for the whole team on their shoulders. In fact it’s the complete opposite. It’s all about taking advantage of the talent that we have and doing our best on the pitch. So far, things are going well.
At the moment the team is playing very well. What do you think is the reasoning behind that?
It’s a bit of everything. The fact that Diego is the coach, the fact that we all play for the shirt. In my case, I had the good fortune to play well in the U-20 World Cup (in 2007) and the Olympics (in 2008). I always give everything I’ve got, like when I got the chance to get on against Korea. Fortunately the team played well and scored two quick goals, which helped to relax us. Now we have to go out and do the same thing against Greece and give our all again.
Once we’re with the national team, each of us is well aware of what he has to do: I’m a player and he's the coach.
It seems as if the team has left behind the problems they had in qualifying and has found a rich vein of form. Do you agree?
Yes, but I think we can improve even more in each game that we play. Against Korea we played better than we did in our first match and that helped us to earn people’s respect, which will give us confidence as we go into the game against Greece. I know that we will play well and that we will definitely be ready for the next round. And Argentina will get even stronger in the knockout stage.
Many people ask you about your relationship with Maradona, who is not only your national coach but also your father-in-law. How do you handle that?
As far as I’m concerned, Diego is the coach, and I respect him just as everyone in the squad respects him. Away from the squad, he’s family and I treat him like my father-in-law. Actually, we get on very well. But once we’re with the national team, each of us is well aware of what he has to do: I’m a player and he's the coach. Whenever I’m called upon to play, I do it for Argentina and for the shirt. On top of that, if I can help him, then that’s a bonus.
Greece is a country with a real passion for football, and a team that won UEFA EURO 2004 against all the odds. What are you expecting from them?
They’re a team with some very good players who could cause us problems. But we have to keep going exactly as we are at the moment. On a personal level, I’ve already played against [Sotirios] Kyrgiakos when we played against Liverpool, and I’ve also played against the Panathinaikos contingent. We know them well and we know how to play against them. What will be important is to get a lead as early as we can.