Lionel Messi’s Argentina’s World Cup hopes took a massive hit on Thursday after a shocking 0-0 draw against Peru in the presence of capacity crowd on home soil in Buenos Aires. The result has left Argentina in sixth place in South America’s marathon qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

With only one round remaining in qualifiers, 2014 World cup runners-up will next play Ecuador in a do-or-die encounter on October 11 in the thin air of Quito in Andes. The first four teams in the standings will qualify automatically, while the fifth-placed side will be going into a play-off against New Zealand in November. The Argentines have a poor record in Ecuadoran capital, having lost two matches out of their last three World Cup Qualifiers. Argentina had last registered a victory in a World Cup Qualifier in Quito in 2001.

Brazil has already qualified for the World Cup and is currently on top of the standings with 38 points followed by Uruguay (28), Chile (26), Colombia (26), Peru (25), Argentina (25) and Paraguay (24). Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia are now out of race for the next-year’s World Cup.

In other results on Thursday, Paraguay beat Colombia 2-1, Chile beat Ecuador 2-1 and Uruguay played a 0-0 draw with Venezuela.

If Argentina fail to qualify, this will be the first time they will miss out on a World Cup berth since 1970. Their star footballer Lionel Messi had announced his retirement after his team’s Copa America final loss to Chile in 2016. However, he returned to the squad the same year with the aim to get his team a World Cup berth and eventually win the coveted trophy. Now, it would be interesting to see if Lionel Messi and co manage to go through to Russia, or will have their hopes dashed.

 

 

First Published | 6 October 2017 12:03 PM
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