Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 2nd 2015 Contents A58
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, July 2, 2015
CONCEPCION---Lionel Messi is a step
closer to finally breaking through with
The Barcelona star heads into the
Copa America final with a chance to
end his nation's 22-year title drought,
and prove that he can replicate his
club-level success with the national
Messi thrived in leading Argentina
to a 6-1 rout of Paraguay in the semi-
finals on Tuesday, setting up a final
against host Chile on Saturday.
Messi didn't score but helped set up
five goals, including a spectacular run
past several defenders from near mid-
It is Messi's and Argentina's second
chance in a year to lift a trophy, and
the first since the World Cup final in
"We really want to win this one, we
are very hopeful," the 28-year-old play-
maker said through a translator.
Argentina hasn't won a significant
trophy since the 1993 Copa America,
when Messi was aged six.
He lost the 2007 final to Brazil in
Venezuela, and was eliminated in the
2011 quarterfinals at home by Uruguay.
Victory on Saturday would give
Argentina its 15th Copa America title,
tying Uruguay as the tournament's
most successful team.
Messi has won nearly every title pos-
sible with Barcelona but nothing with
Argentina's senior squad, which has
always prompted a lot of criticism
against him. Many Argentines complain
that with the national team he has
never played as well as he does with
"I really want to win something with
the national team," said Messi, a four-
time world player of the year.
Although Messi helped Argentina's
Under-23s win the Olympic gold medal
at the 2008 Games in Beijing, his first
major tournament was the 2006 World
Cup in Germany, where the team fell
in the quarterfinals. It was the same
result at the 2010 World Cup in South
Africa, and the great run in the 2014
World Cup ended with a heartbreaking
1-0 loss to Germany in the final at
Messi didn't have a good start in
this year's Copa America, but improved.
He played well in the quarterfinal vic-
tory over Colombia, and was even bet-
ter in Tuesday's semifinal, although he
didn't score. His only goal came off a
penalty kick in the opener.
"The scoring chances that he creates
almost count as a goal," Argentina
coach Gerardo Martino said. "I don't
see him worried. On the contrary, I see
him happy. He doesn't need to be the
team's goalscorer to be happy."
Messi said he may be saving his goals
for the final.
"Hopefully it will happen," he said.
"It's important that we reached our
first goal, which was to reach the final."
PRAGUE---Petr Cech said it was
the hardest decision of his career
to agree to end 11 successful years
at Chelsea and transfer to Eng-
lish Premier League rival Arse-
The 33-year-old Cech lost his
starting goalkeeper role last sea-
son, which he said he was not
ready to accept.
"Last season, I realised how
much I love playing football on a
regular basis, how much I love to
be a part of the team, week in
and week out," Cech said yester-
day at a news conference in
Prague. "My commitment and
approach to football is the same
as at the beginning of my career.
I'm far from being finished and
being happy to sit on the bench."
At Chelsea, he won the Cham-
pions League, four Premier
Leagues, four FA Cups, three
League Cups, and one Europa
League after joining from French
Arsenal signed him for a report-
ed fee of about 11 million pounds
($17.3 million), but Cech said it
was not about the money, but
about "purely football reasons."
"I have big personal ambitions
and motivation to win trophies,
and win games, and Arsenal Foot-
ball Club has the same," he said.
He received other serious con-
tract offers, but Arsenal's deal was
the best, he said. A meeting with
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger,
who talked about the club's future,
was crucial in his decision.
"It's a club capable of winning,
ready to work hard, and move for-
ward," Cech said.
closer to elusive title
THE HAGUE---Danny Blind was
hired as the new coach of the
Netherlands yesterday, with his
first task to guide the national
team to next year s European
Championship finals after its
stuttering start to qualifying
under predecessor Guus Hiddink.
The Dutch football association
said Blind---an assistant to Hiddink
and the Netherlands' previous
coach, Louis van Gaal--- signed a
contract until August 2018, with
an "evaluation moment" planned
at the end of the 2015-2016 season.
Blind is a former defender for the
Netherlands and Ajax.
Hiddink's contract was termi-
nated on Monday, less than a year
into his second stint in charge of
the national team. The Netherlands
is one of the top international
teams in the world but is currently
third in its Euro 2016 qualifying
group, five points behind leader
Iceland and three off the Czech
Republic with four games left.
"Reaching the European Cham-
pionship is my only goal," Blind
said in a statement. "I'm not look-
ing back and not looking further
forward than that. Only qualifying
for Euro 2016 counts."
The top two qualify from each
group as well as the best third-
place team. The other third-place
finishers go into the playoffs.
Blind has spent three years as
No 2 coach with the Netherlands
and his only other coaching expe-
rience was a short spell in charge
The Dutch were semifinalists at
last year's World Cup in Brazil,
under Van Gaal.
Cech: Arsenal matches
my ambition to win trophies
Dutch turn to Danny Blind
as replacement for Hiddink
Messi controls the
ball past Paraguay's
Paulo Cesar Da Silva
during a Copa
soccer match at the
Ester Roa Rebolledo
beat Paraguay 6-1 in
the Copa America
Tuesday, setting up a
final against host
Chile. AP PHOTO
Links Archive July 1st 2015 July 3rd 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page