FIFA World Cup: `Amazing` Messi is our Maradona, says coach

AFP| Last Updated: Jun 30, 2014, 22:27 PM IST

Sao Paolo: Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella Monday hailed Lionel Messi`s "amazing" World Cup form and compared him to Diego Maradona during the team`s title run in 1986.

Sabella said he never had any doubts that Messi, who has not always produced his best at international level, would star at the tournament.

The four-time world player of the year, aged 27, has hit four of Argentina`s six goals en route to Tuesday`s last 16 knock-out game against Switzerland in Sao Paulo.

"Messi`s playing an amazing World Cup, that`s what everybody expected," Sabella told reporters at Corinthians Arena.

"I expected it, so did his colleagues and so did all Argentinians in general. So of course we`re happy, we`re happy for the team and for him as well.

"He`s an important player for us. Maradona was a very important player in that time and Messi is important as well."

Messi scored against all of Argentina`s group rivals Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria to lie one off Maradona`s haul of five goals in 1986, when the Albiceleste last won the World Cup.

Sabella said he was happy for the two-time world champions to rely on their star man -- much as Brazil have counted on Messi`s Barcelona team-mate, Neymar.

"I think both players are amazing. Messi`s the best in the world, Neymar is a great player and of course with players like this the team depends on them. It`s normal," he said.