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'He can't come back to Argentina' - Maradona blasts boss Sampaoli after Iceland draw

Diego Maradona said Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Iceland on Saturday was “a disgrace”.

The 1986 World Cup winner was critical of manager Jorge Sampaoli.
The 1986 World Cup winner was critical of manager Jorge Sampaoli.
Image: Mikhail Metzel

ARGENTINA LEGEND DIEGO Maradona issued a scathing assessment Sunday of his country’s World Cup draw with Iceland, warning manager Jorge Sampaoli that he would not be welcome back home unless he changes his tactics.

“Playing like that, he can’t come back to Argentina,” the 1986 World Cup winner told Venezuelan television after Lionel Messi missed a penalty in the 1-1 Group D stalemate in Moscow.

“It’s a disgrace. Not having prepared for the match knowing that Iceland are all 1.90m tall… I get the feeling there’s a general anger at the heart of the team,” said Maradona.

Argentina took the lead through Sergio Aguero in the 19th minute Saturday as a cigar-puffing Maradona looked on from the stands of the Spartak Stadium.

But minnows Iceland, playing at their first ever finals, levelled four minutes later through Alfred Finnbogason.

Messi, whose performances in World Cups are arguably the only blot on an other-worldly career, spurned a chance to take the lead when his 63rd-minute spot kick was saved by Hannes Halldorsson.

Argentina v Iceland: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli. Source: Gabriel Rossi

But Maradona avoided criticising his heir apparent and instead pointed the finger at Sampaoli.

“I don’t blame the players. I could blame the lack of work rate. But I can’t blame the players, much less Messi, who gave it all he had,” he said.

“I missed five penalties on the spin and I was still Diego Armando Maradona. I don’t think that they dropped two points because Messi missed a penalty,” added Maradona, who led Argentina to the quarter-finals in South Africa in 2010.

Argentina play Croatia in their next game in Saint Petersburg on 21 June.

© – AFP 2018

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