Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni insists there is still plenty to play for in World Cup qualifying with spots in their squad for Qatar 2022 up for grabs “except for one”.
The already-qualified Albiceleste got past Colombia 1-0 in Cordoba on Tuesday thanks to Lautaro Martinez’s 29th-minute strike to clinch another three points.
Scaloni did not call up Lionel Messi for Argentina’s two qualifiers over the past week following his recent COVID-19 case while Rodrigo De Paul and Leandro Paredes were also absent, with Emiliano Buendia making his debut off the bench against Colombia.
“We had the possibility of calling up players but we preferred not to expose footballers who aren’t playing right now,” Scaloni told reporters after the game.
“Not only did we miss players but we had to improvise in putting players in positions. We went forward with these call ups who came to contribute and in the end, it went well.
“Here, you can’t relax. Everyone is part of this process but on the pitch, you have to perform. The players that were here today took advantage of their opportunity.
“There’s still a lot left until the World Cup. No one has their spot secured, except for one, as I have always said.”
The victory over Colombia means Scaloni becomes the first Argentine coach to beat all nine South American national teams.
The clean sheet meant Argentina have not conceded in their past five home qualifiers, while the win also extended Argentina’s unbeaten run to 29 games.
“I don’t think that’s important, it’s how the team functions and how these players feel wearing the shirt,” Scaloni said about their unbeaten streak.