Tata Martino calls Argentina win against Nigeria 'a huge relief'
6:56 PM ET
- Arch Bell
Former Argentina national team head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino called the team's dramatic 2-1 win over Nigeria in their World Cup group stage finale "a huge relief" and feels it could spur the Albiceleste on to a deep run at Russia 2018.
"It is a huge relief," said Martino in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC on Thursday. "To emerge from such a desperate situation now gives the team tranquility and that could lead to better performances in the tournament."
Argentina have advanced to the knockout round of every World Cup since South Korea-Japan 2002, however with minutes remaining and locked in a 1-1 draw with Nigeria, the South Americans were staring at elimination until Marcos Rojo's 86th-minute winner.
With the group stage now in the past, the current Atlanta United coach feels like Argentina will be able to play toward their strengths.
He said: "They have taken care of a great responsibility in getting past the group stage. You can see how difficult it has been for every team. Germany are out; Argentina, Brazil and Spain all had trouble.
"Now it's the start of a new tournament for the players and that will help them. I think they'll play with more calmness and will be looser."
On the docket for the Albiceleste is a France team that was one of the few to avoid drama in the group stage.
For Martino, it's an encounter that will test Argentina's title credentials.
"France is certainly a candidate to win [the World Cup]. They have very good players. It will be interesting to see how the match unfolds, especially in midfield. Argentina, with its great individuals, is capable of anything," said Martino.Source: Google News Argentina | Netizen 24 Argentina