Argentina’s national U20 team suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Nigeria, leaving head coach Javier Mascherano disheartened, Soccernet.ng reports.
The young Albiceleste, considered overwhelming favourites, faltered against the resilient Flying Eagles at the Estadio San Juan.
Despite Argentina’s impressive performance in the group stage, where they scored ten goals to top Group A, Nigeria, who finished third in Group D, emerged triumphant.
Ibrahim Muhammad and Haliru Sarki proved to be the game-changers for Nigeria, netting two crucial goals in the second half.
This victory not only marked Nigeria’s first-ever win against Argentina at this level but also propelled the Flying Eagles into the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2011.
The premature exit from the tournament is undoubtedly a disappointment for Argentina, a team renowned for its success in previous under-20 tournaments.
In the aftermath of the defeat, Coach Mascherano, a legendary figure in Argentine football, expressed his anguish.
“Life goes on, it hurts our souls, we did everything,” the former Liverpool and Barcelona midfielder lamented to BATimes.
“The boys gave everything, but football is like that: sometimes it gives you, and sometimes it takes away.”
Despite the devastating loss, Mascherano has chosen not to resign from his position.
He disclosed that his resignation rests on the decision of AFA President Claudio Tapia but emphasized his desire to continue coaching the team.
“I have a great relationship with Tapia, and I will continue until he doesn’t want me to. As long as they believe in me, I’ll be here,” Mascherano stated, reaffirming his dedication to the role.
As Nigeria celebrate their well-deserved victory, they now await their quarterfinal opponents, either Ecuador or South Korea.
The Flying Eagles’ remarkable journey in the tournament continues, while Argentina reflects on their missed opportunity and look ahead to future endeavours.