Wednesday, 1 February, 2023
E-paper

Messi’s Argentina eyeing round of 16 berth

DOHA: Argentina will be looking to leapfrog Poland to the top of Group C and qualify for the last 16 of the 2022 World Cup when they do battle at Stadium 974 tonight, reports agencies.

The two-time world champions currently sit level on three points with Saudi Arabia, just one point behind Poland at the summit heading into their final group fixture.

Four days on from their shock 2-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia, Argentina boosted their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds courtesy of a crucial 2-0 victory against Mexico on Saturday.

After an underwhelming first-half showing, star man Lionel Messi stepped up when it mattered, with the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner breaking the deadlock in the 64th minute with a low-driven strike from outside the area, before setting up Enzo Fernandez in the closing stages to secure their first three points in Group C.

Jubilant scenes were sparked in the dressing room after full time and Lionel Scaloni's men – regarded by many as one of the pre-tournament favourites to go all the way in Qatar – appear to have restored their belief heading into their final group clash with Poland.

Argentina will finish at the summit of Group C and qualify for the knockout rounds if they secure all three points against Poland, and if Saudi Arabia fail to beat Mexico, the match which is scheduled on same time tonight, by a larger margin than Scaloni's side. A draw, meanwhile, could be enough for them to progress in second place if Saudi Arabia fail to win.