Diego Maradona to meet Argentina players after Croatia shock
Diego Maradona has requested a meeting with Argentina’s players before their final World Cup group game on Tuesday.
After losing to Croatia, the two-time winners must beat Nigeria to have any chance of reaching the last 16.
Maradona is “furious and upset” and criticised Argentine Football Association president Claudio Tapia.
“It cost us too much to be where we are for Croatia to hit us for three goals and to leave with our arms crossed without putting a foot in,” he said.
Maradona, the Golden Ball winner as Argentina won the 1986 World Cup, said he “would love” to meet coach Jorge Sampaoli’s players and would take several of his former team-mates with him.
“We’re going to defend our honour,” he told Venezuelan TV channel Telesur.
“I’m furious and very upset inside because anyone who has worn that shirt can’t see it being trampled like that by a Croatian team that isn’t Germany, that isn’t Brazil, that isn’t Holland or Spain.
“But there is a guilty party and the culprit is the president of the AFA. Everyone just accepted it when Sampaoli came in with computers, with drones, with 14 assistants.
“I think there is a total lack of authority on Tapia’s part.”
‘If we didn’t raise it, we’d be hypocrites’
Tapia was at a news conference on Sunday with midfielder Javier Mascherano, who denied there was a rift between Sampaoli and the players.
Although Sampaoli has sought the opinion of his players, Mascherano, 34, dismissed reports it was a ‘revolt’.
“We talked about football to help us,” he said. “The best technicians ask the players for advice too because we decide on the field.
“The relationship with Sampaoli is totally normal, but if we feel uncomfortable, we will raise it. Otherwise, we would be hypocrites.
“The opposite would be to harm the team, we must seek the collective benefit – we have 23 in the squad.”
Mascherano made his 145th international appearance during the Croatia defeat, which left the 2014 runners-up with just one point so far having drawn with Iceland.
“We are not playing well and we take charge of the results,” added the former West Ham and Liverpool player who left Barcelona for Hebei China Fortune in January.
“The coach is the one who gives us the tools to be comfortable alone on the field but you have to talk. It happens in all places, even Barca.
“He wants to know what happens to you on the field to be able to make decisions. They are basic soccer concepts.”