As focus shifted to major international matches taking place this weekend, it was a different scenario in South America as the continent began the tedious qualification process for the Brazil 2014 World Cup finals.
Both Argentina and Uruguay won convincingly with La Albiceleste beating Chile 4-1 at home while Uruguay settled for a 4-2 win over Bolivia in Montevideo. On form strikers Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani were once again on score sheet for La Celeste who’s amazing form since last year’s finals have seen them move up the FIFA rankings to 4th place.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina scored 4 past Chile with Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain bagging a hat-trick. Barcelona superstar player Lionel Messi scored Argentina’s the other goal to take the country to the top of the qualifying table.
There were also wins for Ecuador who beat Venezuela 2-0 and Peru who defeated Paraguay by the similar margin. Colombia was the only nation not to feature in the fixtures.
Speaking to reporters after the game, an impressed Higuain acknowledged his performance but refused to let it get to his head.
“I’m happy but I can’t afford to relax. I need to keep it going,”
Argentina have failed to impress on the big stage since the turn of the century, however, their is optimism that new coach Alejandro Sabella could be the right man to help the nation win its 3third title since their last win 33 years ago.
With Brazil having already qualified as hosts of the event, it will offer other minnows some form of respite knowing that they will not have to play the most talented side in the game.
That said, a lot of pressure is mounting on coach Mano Mnezes to ensure that his squad are ready for the tournament and although, the coach has maintained a near perfect record since taking over (only losing to Argentina 1-0 in a friendly played earlier this year), fans still feel that enough is not been done to make the side increase its competitiveness.
With the threat of European nations like Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, Brazil and other South American countries cannot afford to be sloppy in their preparations.
Photo credit © G Fox