Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said he believes his team will participate in next year’s World Cup despite a goalless draw with Peru that left them outside the qualification places.
The two-time World Cup winners must win their final South American zone qualifier in Ecuador on Tuesday to avoid missing the quadrennial event for the first time since 1970.
“I am hopeful and confident that, if we play with the conviction that we showed today, we will be in the World Cup,” Sampaoli told a press conference after his team’s goalless draw with Peru at the Bombonera stadium.
“The team never gave up and gave their all. We deserved to win. As the match went on the difference between the teams was clear,” he added.
The top four teams in the CONMEBOL group will earn a direct berth in Russia while the fifth-ranked side will advance to an intercontinental playoff against New Zealand.
Thursday’s result left Peru fifth in the standings, ahead of Argentina on goals scored, as Ricardo Gareca’s side bid to qualify for football’s premier event for the first time since 1982.
The Blanquirroja will host Colombia in Lima in their final qualifier on Tuesday, with both teams needing to win to be assured of a World Cup spot.
“We managed a draw and, even though we came here to win, we realize that earning a point in Argentina is difficult,” Gareca told reporters.
“We played just like we’d planned but we weren’t able to take our chances in attack. To make it to the last round and depend on ourselves in a home match to qualify is important.
“We aren’t assured of anything. We are going to play against a team [Colombia] that also needs to win. In the last round anything can happen. The good thing is that we are in control of our own destiny.”