Lionel Scaloni said he was looking forward to taking on Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal in the World Cup quarter-finals after his Argentina side beat Australia 2-1 on Saturday.
Goals from Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez gave Argentina a winning cushion at the Ahmad bin Ali stadium in Qatar before an Enzo Fernandez own goal set up a frantic finish.
Argentina will face the Dutch in the last eight on Friday after the Netherlands beat the United States 3-1 earlier in the day.
It will give Scaloni, 44, the chance to come up against a coach he already idolised when he was still a player.
“I was at Deportivo La Coruna when he was Barcelona coach and he was already an leading figure, I’m proud to take him on, everyone knows what he’s done for football,” said Scaloni of the 71-year-old Van Gaal.
Scaloni was actually part of the Deportivo side that pipped Van Gaal’s Barcelona to the La Liga title in 2000.
He said this Dutch side is not as talented as previous generations but will nonetheless provide Argentina with a stern test.
“It’s not as brilliant as previous Dutch teams, but they are very clear on what they do,” said Scaloni.
“It will be a great match between two historic teams. One will be knocked out, we hope we go through.”
The Argentina coach paid tribute to a plucky Socceroos side who pushed their more illustrious opponents all the way, even forcing goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez into a late save to prevent the tie heading into extra-time.
“We’re satisfied, above all because today’s match was very difficult, their pressing was asphyxiating,” said Scaloni, who felt Argentina should have put the game to bed and saved themselves the nervy finale.
“The team didn’t deserve those closing minutes because we had chances to increase the lead,” he added.
And he paid tribute to Argentine fans who once again took over the majority of the stadium in Qatar and created a vibrant atmosphere throughout the game.
“It is a true injection of morale, I would like the whole world to experience what a player feels when he goes to these people.”
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