21 Jun 2024, 09:26

Argentina coach Scaloni angry over Atlanta pitch

 ATLANTA, June 21, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni hit out at the temporary grass surface installed for Thursday's Copa America opener against Canada saying it was unsuited for a major tournament game.

The world champions beat Canada 2-0 to open their title defence but Scaloni was far from happy with the conditions his players had to deal with.

The field at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer's Atlanta United, is made of artificial turf but organisers installed grass sod on top for this tournament.

"Thank goodness we won, because otherwise it would have been a cheap excuse to sit here and say this but we've known we were going to play here for seven months and they changed the surface two days ago," said Scaloni.

"It's not good for the spectacle. I'm sorry, it's not an excuse, but it's not a pitch. The stadium is beautiful and with the synthetic turf it should be spectacular, but with the (grass) turf today. Honestly, it's not suitable for this kind of players," he said.

The grass was installed after Atlanta United's last home game on June 15.

Scaloni said the surface made it difficult for his team to play their normal game and take the tactical approach he prefers.

"They were not feeling confident with the poor condition of the pitch, they couldn't make the passes that they wanted.

"Given the poor condition of the pitch there wasn't much we could do," he said.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez also took aim at the surface in his post-match comments.

"Coming here, against a strong Canada, who have good strikers, good players, on a pitch that is a disaster, made it a bit difficult for us," said the keeper.

Martinez He said the ball was bobbling on the surface and said it was a prestige issue for the tournament.

"We have to improve in that aspect. If not, the Copa America will always be at a slightly lower level than the European Championship," he said.


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