HANOVER: Argentina turned in a less than flawless performance in Sunday's penalty shoot-out win over Mexico but coach Jose Pekerman warned that the sparkle will be back when they take on Brazil in tomorrow's Confederations Cup final.
“That wasn't one of our best matches,” Pekerman conceded after Esteban Cambiasso knocked in his spot-kick to hand Argentina a 6-5 penalty win after the side's were deadlocked 1-1 after extra time.
“But my team have the capacity to produce a good performance against Brazil,” the coach added.
Brazil have the luxury of an extra day's recovery time having seen off Germany in the other semi-final on Saturday, but Pekerman dismissed the notion that fatigue could count against Argentina.
”Okay we've got one day less before the final but my team are young and ambitious and I'm sure we'll be ready for Brazil in two days time.”
As well as the lack of recovery time the grey-haired former Argentine youth coach will also have to make do without striker Javier Saviola after the Monaco star was sent off after an ill-judged tackle on Gonzalo Pineda in the 90th minute.
Pekerman has used the Confed Cup to hand valuable international experience to players like goalkeeper German Lux, who set up Argentina's win when he saved Mexico's sixth penalty taken by Ricardo Osorio.
“Saving that penalty represents an important stage in his career,” said Pekerman.
Argentine defender Ricardo Zanetti, who was making his 100th international appearance, added: “As expected it was a hard game but at the end we deserved to win.”
Pekerman believes that despite his team's shortcomings there were plenty of positives to take from the game.
“It wasn't a great performance – there's always a sense of drama in a game that will take you to the final.
“But we showed our fighting spirit, especially in the second half, and we kept our faith when we went a goal down. The players came up with the answers in the end.”
“We showed a lot of heart,” Argentine captain Juan Pablo Sorin said.
“The final against Brazil is a classic, but we're not afraid.”
Sorin had Argentina's best chance of the first half, but his shot into an open goal just before the break was kept out only by the quick thinking Pineda who cleared the ball off the line.
Argentina, wearing black armbands in memory of a promising young goalkeeper who died on Saturday, started the second half brightly with Luciano Figueroa putting a purposeful header over Oswaldo Sanchez's bar.
Sanchez went on to produce a great save to keep out Colocchini's 58th minute strike.
The mop-haired Deportivo La Coruna defender was then booked in the 69th minute after his thuggish challenge on Ramon Morales, who had to be stretchered off in evident distress.
Minutes after Saviola's red card Mexico's influential defender Rafael Marquez was sent packing when he picked up his second yellow for a nasty challenge on Gabriel Milito.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 14th minute of extra time when Salcido's deflected shot from the left hopped over Lux and into the back of the net.
But Figueroa levelled with his fourth goal of the competition, juggling the ball on his backfoot before shooting under Sanchez from point blank range, to leave penalties the only answer with Cambriasso holding his nerve to end Mexico's 21-match unbeaten run.
Sunday's game was held in memory of Marc Viven Foe, the former Manchester City player who collapsed and died when playing for Cameroon in the last Confederations Cup in France in 2003. – AFP