Sampaoli: I am the coach

Jorge Sampaoli has come out fighting ahead of Argentina’s crunch clash with Nigeria on Tuesday evening.

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La Albiceleste has been poor throughout the World Cup, starting with a 1-1 draw with Iceland where Lionel Messi missed a penalty, before being hammered 3-0 by Croatia.

They face a crunch clash with the Super Eagles that will determine their fate in Russia, and ahead of the match, Sampaoli has been forced to deny a rift in the Argentina camp.

It was reported that the players wanted the former Chile and Sevilla boss to step down, while Sampaoli is only focused on his side’s next game.

He said: “I can’t clarify situations that don’t exist. When we finished the last match I took responsibility for the loss.

“I am the coach so the next day I started to think about how we can win tomorrow as a team.”

Argentina must still hope that Iceland fails to beat Croatia in order to reach the knockout stage.

Sampaoli added: “Tomorrow Argentina will start its World Cup. We have to take on board what happened to us, the point where we are now and we have to be aware tomorrow is the first of five matches that will take us to the final.

“Tomorrow we need to play the first of five finals.”

He concluded: “The important thing is the players who play tomorrow, regardless of whether they are historical players or not, will have the obligation to leave their last drop of sweat on the pitch so that Argentina can qualify.”