Argentina’s Copa America exit not a failure, says Batista

AFP, Sunday 17 Jul 2011

Argentina coach Sergio Batista denied that Saturday's Copa America quarterfinal exit to neighbours Uruguay represented a "failure."

Sergio Batista
Argentina's coach Batista walks off the field with Higuain after losing by penalty kicks against Uruguay in their quarter-final soccer match at the Copa America in Santa Fe (Reuters)

"This is not a failure," insisted Batista after Carlos Tevez's missed penalty sealed a shootout defeat following a 1-1 draw after extra-time in Santa Fe.

"I would not call it failure - that is a very strong word. We work to win and I think we really played very well" Batista opined.

But the side failed to take advantage of having an extra man for most of the second half after Uruguay scorer Diego Perez was red-carded late in the first half.

In that second period, "the intensity dropped off we rather lost our way," Batista acknowledged.

"Today, we did not play badly, we made chances... but we will keep on plugging away to raise our game," said Batista, who took over from Diego Maradona following last summer's World Cup thumping by Germany.

Asked if he might think about stepping down, Batista - a Maradona teammate in the successful 1986 World Cup campaign - said he wasn't thinking along those lines.

"That is not something going through my head," he said. "Going out hurts, but you have to continue on.

"My work started five, six months ago. We wanted to win the Copa America, but our objective is the World Cup," he insisted.

That is also Brazil's refrain as Argentina's eternal rivals host the 2014 tournament.

But the auriverde remain in the Copa for now as they head into a Sunday quarterfinal against Paraguay.

Batista insisted that Lionel Messi deserved praise despite not finding the net in the tournament on the back of 53 goals for Barcelona last term.

"He played exceptionally for 30 minutes. He had a very good game," Batista said.

Argentina defender Pedro Zabaleta insisted, nonetheless, that the albiceleste should have seen off their rivals from across the River Plate.

"It is a bad feeling as we know we should have won it. We had chances and for much of the game we had a man extra," he conceded.

Uruguay's Liverpool striker Luis Suarez insisted that penalties are essentially a lottery.

"When it comes down to a shootout it's really down to luck, and when it came to the penalties luck was on our side," Suarez said.

"We left everything out on the pitch as Uruguay always do. We knew it would be a tough Copa but confidence is on the rise," he told reporters.

"We were a man down for almost the whole of the second half so it was a huge effort" to come through.

"The idea of beating Argentina was extra motivation," he concluded.

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