Argentines satisfied after scrappy win over Tunisia


  • Other Sport
  • Friday, 17 Jun 2005

COLOGNE: Argentina midfielder Juan Riquelme emerged from his side's 2-1 Confederations Cup opener win over Tunisia with a penalty, the man-of-the-match award, and a smile. 

The Villareal star, like his coach Jose Pekerman, was more than satisfied with this first Group A outing considering Argentina are bereft of some of their key names in Germany this month. 

“We had a bumpy start but we got better as the match progressed and the important thing was to win,” the 26-year-old said after Wednesday's far from error-free Group A success. 

That view was echoed by his coach, Jose Pekerman, who started only five of the players involved in last week's 3-1 defeat of Brazil which booked Argentina a place in next year's World Cup. 

“We used a few young players and this game and this competition is an important experience for them and for the team on our way to improving,” Pekerman said. 

“It's always interesting to watch the new players. I saw negatives, like when we gave the ball away when we were in control, and positives, but mostly positives. 

“I'm very satisfied overall, we created lots of scoring opportunities and some players will gain in confidence. 

“In terms of the next match I can't say whether I'll be making changes, it depends on how they come out of this game.” 

Among those making a rare appearance in the famous light blue and white shirts were Palermo's Mario Santana, Lucas Bernadi of Monaco, and German Lux, who had a torrid time in goal, almost gifting Tunisia a late equaliser when a sloppy clearance was pounced on by Slim Benachour. 

Riquelme set Argentina up for the three points with a 33rd minute penalty, with Javier Saviola doubling up after the break. 

Tunisia squandered a 16th minute penalty when Imed Mhadhebi's lackadaisical spot kick went high, but Haykel Guemamdia did not make the same mistake when scoring from the spot in the last quarter of the game. 

“It's the best way to start the competition, with a win,” said Argentina captain Juan Sorin. 

Next up for an Argentina squad that are missing some of their brightest stars like Hernan Crespo and Juan Sebastian Veron comes Australia in Nuremberg on Saturday followed by hosts Germany next Tuesday. 

Roger Lemerre's Tunisia face hosts Germany in Cologne on Saturday with a final Group A encounter against the Socceroos next Tuesday. 

Lemerre, who also rested some of his first choice players, said his squad was beginning to wilt. 

“We've had two important games in Africa (World Cup qualifiers against Botswana and Guinea) and we're suffering physically, I've got to protect my group in a competition which comes at the end of a long season. 

“We don't have the means of the big teams, so there'll be changes for sure for the next game.” 

Reflecting on the missed first half penalty the former France manager added: “We missed a chance there to take a psychological advantage. And we could have scored in the final minutes. 

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