FIFA World Cup 2018: Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli defends Lionel Messi, looks ahead to Croatia match

Despite his disappointment, Sampaoli said he was heartened to see how much Messi wanted to win the game and how committed his superstar is to the national team.

FIFA World Cup 2018: Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli defends Lionel Messi, looks ahead to Croatia match
Argentina's coach Jorge Sampaoli before the FIFA World Cup 2018 Group D preliminary round soccer match between Argentina and Iceland in Moscow, Russia, June 16, 2018. EPA-EFE/PETER POWELL

Moscow: Argentine head coach Jorge Sampaoli defended superstar Lionel Messi after he failed to score and even botched a penalty try in the Albiceleste's 1-1 draw on Saturday against World Cup debutant Iceland.

"It's very difficult to assess Messi's performance because today was a very uncomfortable match. Iceland camped out in its side of the field," Sampaoli said in the post-match press conference.

The Argentine coach said the Albiceleste were frustrated by the draw against Iceland.

Despite his disappointment, Sampaoli said he was heartened to see how much Messi wanted to win the game and how committed his superstar is to the national team.

"(The World Cup) is just getting started for us. We'll learn from what happened (here today) and surely we'll have the strength ... to face the next game," the head coach added.

Argentina's next Group D match is scheduled for Thursday against Croatia.

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