Monday 14 November 2016, 20:09

Rincon: The Argentina players hide behind Messi

Freddy Rincon has recalled Colombia’s historic 5-0 win in Argentina and suggested Lionel Messi's team-mates need to do what Diego Maradona's did during his palatial pomp. The former midfielder scored twice, as Los Cafeteros silenced the Monumental to clinch a USA 1994 place and force La Albiceleste into an intercontinental play-off, which they edged 2-1 on aggregate against Australia.

“I remember it with great pride,” the ex-Real Madrid player told Clarin ahead of the countries' clash in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying. “It will be difficult for another team to manage what we did that time. From that match, Colombia gained worldwide respect. It was a perfect match, everything surpassed our expectations. We didn’t expect to achieve such a big victory.

“We set a precedent and showed future generations that winning in Argentina is not impossible. We broke a myth. Before that, Colombia always visited Argentina and returned with a defeat. That match changed it. The Colombian now believes in himself more – he feels capable of winning not only in Argentina, but also in Brazil.”

Colombia are third in the South American standings in Russia 2018 qualifying, while Argentina are two points back in sixth following four matches without victory. Rincon cannot foresee Jose Pekerman’s team matching their 5-0 zenith, but he is upbeat on their chances of a positive result in San Juan.

“It will be very difficult ,” said the man whose last-gasp equaliser against West Germany snatched Colombia a place in the knockout phase at Italy 1990. "We were lucky to pull that off. The new generations are going to achieve other results, but not like that. That one was a great privilege that I was able to relish. From then on, the world looked at Colombia differently.

“Argentina will come out and give it everything, and Colombia will have to double their efforts. But if Colombia can take advantage of the moment that Argentina are in, they can come away with a good result. The form of the two teams invites you to be optimistic. Of course, it will be difficult. Colombia are in a more comfortable position in qualifying, but a defeat would make things difficult.”

Maradona example Rincon believes Messi’s team-mates need to help him out more, just like Diego Maradona’s did, as Argentina conquered Mexico 1986.

“Everybody puts the responsibility on Messi, but he can’t do it all on his own,” said the 50-year-old. “His team-mates must also contribute. It appears that they are all hiding behind Messi, hoping that he will solve everything, but Messi is a human being.

"With Maradona, it was the same. He was an extraordinary player, but he had other footballers behind him to do the dirty work. You need a team in addition to the individuals.

“I can’t imagine a World Cup without Argentina, but they have to earn the right to be there – something that they are not doing now. But I have no doubt that they will qualify. There are a lot of qualifiers remaining and they can turn this situation around.”