Sunday, February 08, 2009

U20: A team that was simply not good enough

It is unfair that the most successful nation in the history of the Youth World Cup and current champions, Argentina, won't get the chance to defend their title and to add to their amazing resume.

But at the same time...what an unfair thing would have been for this Argentina U20 national team to qualify to the Youth World Cup!

Just one win in the entire competition (to probably the worst side competing: Perú). Six draws and three defeats, scoring 10 goals and conceding 13.

It was an unacceptable performance by a team that couldn't count on players such as DI SANTO, PIATTI or PASTORE, but at the same time had enough names (INSUA, ZUCULINI, SALVIO) to steady the ship and make it to Egypt in a tournament that awarded not 1, not 2, but 4 tickets among 10 teams.

For all I enjoyed BATISTA leading our U23 to Olympic glory, I think he is the main responsible for this complete an utter failure.

I'm not taking just the results as a parameter here. The level of performances just wasn't there. Not once did I see this team taking complete control over a game. Not once they showed they deserved to qualify for the World Cup.

It could have been a different story had that completely legal goal against Brazil been awarded by that pathetic Uruguayan referee. Argentina could have nicked those three points and could have gathered some momentum there. It wasn't to be. And I think the aftermath of that derby defeat was where we can find the source of all the problems that followed.

BATISTA couldn't control himself and gave the angriest press conference I remember. He called the referee a million names. He blamed everyone but his own guys or himself. And I think he pass that emotional charge on to his group of players.

Argentina saw four red cards (GAITAN, ZUCULINI, BELLA and FERNANDEZ), the players went at it after the match against Venezuela, there was NOTHING left from those more than ten years under PEKERMAN/TOCALLI and to a lesser extent TOJO, in which not only Argentina won or contended every youth title around but also topped the Fair Play charts in the process.

Apart from the obvious failure to qualify to the Youth World Cup, that lack of discipline or respect to the opposition or our own team and fans is the single most thing that I regret after watching this tournament.

Just to put this into perspective, last time Argentina failed to make it to the Youth World Cup was at Australia 1993. That time it was because suspension after a Juan ESNAIDER-led Argentina participated in a massive brawl in Portugal 1991.

Last time we missed out for on the pitch failure was in Chile 1987 (where Yugoslavia, with the likes of Zvonimir BOBAN, Robert PROSINECKI, Davor SUKER and Robert JARNI defeated West Germany in the final -after penalty kicks- and started to bloom for when the new Croatian national side finished third eleven years later in France 1998. But that's another story, isn't it?).

We won't get our chance to see how this generation of Argentine players would have faired at the Youth World Cup later this year. A real shame indeed.


John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

I remember my first WYC. It was in 1995in which was held in Qatar and we won the competition. Back then I never paid too much of attention to all the youth level competition.

Then in 1997, it was Malaysia’s turn to host the event and this fever swept across the whole country. This is where I was first introduce to the likes of Juan RIQUELME, Juan Pablo AIMAR, Esteban CABIASSO, Leo FRANCO and a certain Diego QUINTANA. From this moment, I followed every tournament that came later.

I realize that the WYC has always been a launching pad or an indicator of what the future of the Albicekeste would be. This is where for most Albiceleste fans like me saw the likes of Javier SAVIOLA, Andres D’ALLESANDRO, Maxi RODRIGUEZ, Javier MASCHERANO, Lionel MESSI, Kun AGUERO and many more for the first time.

The WYC has always served a great purpose for us in Asia, to know about the future stars of the game. After all back then, the word blog never existed and we never had that many exposure on the local domestic game in Argentina for us to have inside on the up and coming stars.

That is why, the WYC has a special place in my heart.

Never could I have imagine that we would see the day, a WYC without Argentina. Never. But this is the reality that we are faced with. Absolutely bittersweet truth. It hurts even more to know this especially after winning the 2005 and 2007 version back to back, further to that the gold medal in Beijing. Just how much time has changed.

There is no excuse for such failure as Argentina are a well known factory for producing young football talent. It used to be the Dutch but I feel we have overtaken them a long time ago. Of course, this team assembled by Checho owns caused was not help with some of the notable absence names (DI SANTO, PIATTI etc.) but then a few names don’t make a football team.

I’ll take this failure personally and I do hope that this will be a wake up call to all the players.

Abs said...

Shame, what a shame .. I feel so bad !!

Anonymous said...

In my view, this team was more than good enough to qualify for the U20 WC.
Batista has done a crap job, the apathetic performances, the wierd substitutions and lack of self-belief in this team are all down to him, it would never have happened under Tocalli.
The lack of 3-4 players who weren't released by their clubs is not a good enough reason to not qualify.
The level of refereeing in this tournament as a whole was appalling.
And with regrds to the Olympics we never played really good there either except for the game against Brazil.
I hope Batista steps down as the U20 coach, and the AFA try to get Pekerman/Tocalli to come back.


Anonymous said...

It is ashamed for a defending champion. Pekerman should come back, he works very well with the youth player.

Sir Raul