DOHA, QATAR (AP) – Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni dismissed criticism of his players’ behaviour during the feisty World Cup quarterfinal match against the Netherlands, saying on Monday it is “out of touch with reality”.
There were 17 yellow cards – a record for a World Cup match – and one sending-off as players clashed on numerous occasions before and after Argentina won a penalty shootout to advance to the semifinals.
Scaloni said it was unfair that his players were accused of bad sportsmanship, pointing to previous examples of how they have behaved after matches – whether they won or lost.
“We have to remove this taboo that we do not know how to lose and we do not know how to win,” said Scaloni, speaking a day before Argentina’s match against Croatia in the semifinals.
“We lost our first game with Saudi Arabia and went quietly to the hotel to continue preparing for what was coming.
“We won the Copa America in Brazil (last year) and I think you saw the most beautiful image of sportsmanship you could see, with Neymar, (Lionel) Messi, (Leandro) Paredes and other players sitting on the steps of the Maracana.”
Scaloni said the criticism had hurt Argentina’s “pride”.
“This issue must be settled,” he said through an interpreter.
“We deeply respect the Netherlands, as we do now for Croatia and all our rivals.
“We must banish the idea that we do not know how to win or lose. That is totally out of touch with reality.”