Argentina does not believe in ‘ghosts’

LA PAZ – High-flying Argentina, humiliated 6-1 the last time they played Bolivia in La Paz, have the confidence to avoid crashing badly again in the thin air for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier.
Lionel Messi will lead Argentine in La Paz hoping to win and move closer to qualifying to Brazil. Net photo.
Lionel Messi will lead Argentine in La Paz hoping to win and move closer to qualifying to Brazil. Net photo.

2014 World Cup Qualifying
Tuesday
Bolivia      vs      Argentina 22:00 SS6
Ecuador      vs      Paraguay     23:00
Wednesday   
Chile      vs      Uruguay     01:30
Venezuela vs      Colombia     02:00   
LA PAZ – High-flying Argentina, humiliated 6-1 the last time they played Bolivia in La Paz, have the confidence to avoid crashing badly again in the thin air for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier.

But Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella is taking no chances, mindful of predecessor Diego Maradona’s team and their shock demolition in the equivalent qualifier in 2009.

Argentina brilliantly dismantled a much improved Venezuela 3-0 on Friday at the Monumental to stay firmly in charge of the South American group and Sabella has since sat at his drawing board looking at alternative high-altitude tactics.

He has not gone quite so far as Enrique Omar Sivori, the former European Footballer of the Year who sent a young, second-string squad known as ‘the ghost team’ to prepare for a month in the northwestern Andean province of Jujuy in 1973.

The team, which included a teenage Mario Kempes making his Argentina debut, went through bad times but beat Bolivia 1-0 to help Sivori’s main squad book a place in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany.

“The AFA forgot about us and we had a really bad time,” Kempes said in ‘Matador’, a biography.

Argentina will be looking to end a run of three matches without a win against Bolivia, having been held 1-1 twice at home in 2011, in a World Cup qualifier and a Copa America group phase match.

Argentina lead the nine-nation group with 23 points from 10 matches, followed by Colombia on 19 and Ecuador 17, though both have a game in hand.

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