The Argentina captain is delighted to be playing against Brazil in the final
Argentina's captain and star player heaped praise on goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez in the early hours of Wednesday morning, adding that the final of the Copa América, due to be contested between Argentina and Brazil in the early hours of Sunday morning, is the game that "everyone" has been dreaming of. "It was a tough game but we deserved to win. We had to dig deep at times when they were coming onto us, but we have 'Dibu' and he's a phenomenon. I'm really happy for him, he deserves it". These were the words of Lionel Messi about his side's goalkeeper, who stopped three penalties from Colombia in the shoot-out to help Argentina qualify for this weekend's final after drawing 1-1 in normal time. "We have both reached the final. It's going to be the final that we were all hoping for. It's going to be a very even game, a very tough game. We've now achieved our main goal, which was to reach the final itself. Now we have to try and win it", said Messi to TyC Sports.
Scaloni says that Argentina are "deserved" finalists
The Argentina head coach, Lionel Scaloni, said that his side are "deserved" finalists and that he wants to beat Brazil, who he called their "eternal rival". "It takes a huge effort to get this far, so we need to enjoy these moments. My voice is breaking as I say it. The players have been working hard for almost 60 days now, and they're still pushing for more", he said in the post-match press conference. "We think that the Argentina national side must always compete, and we know that all games are difficult. Countries play in a different way against Argentina and this is a very difficult thing to manage", he added.
Scaloni said that he "takes his hat off" to Messi for his performance in the semi-final against Colombia, adding that he "dragged his teammates through it". "We're very proud of him and his teammates", he added. "Usually those that reach the final deserve to be in it, and I think that Argentina is a deserved winner [of the semi-final] and a deserved finalist. No doubts about it. We're going to play a final against our eternal rivals. We are the two strongest national sides in South America, and I hope that people enjoy watching the game. Of course we want to win, I just hope that everything is in place - including the pitch - for a good game".
Martínez: looking forward to playing against Brazil on their home turf
The Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano 'Dibu' Martínez, who stopped three penalties in the shoot-out against Colombia, said that the team's objective was to reach the Copa América final, adding that there's no "better" opponent than Brazil. "We said it from day 1: we wanted to reach the final. And what better than playing against Brazil on their home turf!", exclaimed shoot-out hero Martínez. "We went ahead early on but they played a great game. We had chances to finish them off but they managed to take us to penalties, which are a total lottery. I guess today I had the winning ticket", he stated.
Martínez said that Argentina and Brazil are the two best sides in the tournament, with both teams deserving to reach the final: "we have a great coach, the best player in the world, and we're going to try and win".
Reinaldo Rueda asks his players to hold their heads up high
The Colombian national team coach, Reinaldo Rueda, has asked his players to hold their heads up high after their shoot-out loss against Argentina. "I told them to keep their heads up high, and reminded them that they left everything out on the pitch and did an amazing job. Hopefully we'll get the rub of the green next time", he said in a press conference in the Mané Garrincha stadium. "It was a difficult group. Of the four semi-finalists, three were in our group. This shows how difficult it was to get through. This shows what a great job they did", he added.
For Rueda, Colombia got off to a bad start by conceding an early goal, but then took control of the game before drawing level at 1-1. "We knew that we were up against a very strong and competitive side. We knew that if we could score goals we'd have a chance of qualifying. Unfortunately luck wasn't on our side today. Football is goals and good play. Today we didn't take our chances to score against a strong opponent", he added.
Colombia will compete in the third-placed playoff this Friday against Peru.
Ospina says that Colombia gave their all
Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina said that "We need to leave with our heads held high. The team gave their all until the final whistle, against a very strong Argentina side. Penalties are a lottery, and we didn't win today. We won our last shoot-out, but this time it's our turn to miss out", he said on the official broadcast after the game. "Our main objective is to qualify for the Qatar World Cup, and what we have achieved in this Copa América can give us hope for the future. We can be happy with what we have done", he said.
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