Argentina star Angel Di Maria has heaped praises on Lionel Messi, even as he believes the 2022 FIFA World Cup will have a huge impact in Qatar and across the Arab world.
Speaking to www.sc.qa during Paris Saint-Germain’s recent winter training camp in Doha, Di Maria said he had no doubts about the tournament’s significance to the region.
“It will be a very important World Cup,” said Di Maria. “The stadiums are very impressive and I know the tournament will be a big boost for the Arab world. I have been to Doha a few times, and every time, I have been received very well, both on a personal level and with the team.”
Di Maria, who has won 92 caps for his country, went on to praise Qatar’s compact tournament plans, which will give fans the chance to see more than one match a day in 2022.
“I have played in World Cups in countries which are very big and having to take long journeys is difficult and complicated for the team,” said Di Maria, who was part of the Argentina squad which made it all the way to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final.
“It is very important to have a compact World Cup, as it will be a lot more comfortable for the players.”
A good omen from ’95
Argentina has already tasted success on Qatari soil after its youth team won the FIFA World Youth Championship in Qatar in 1995 – something Di Maria hopes is a good omen.
“I hope we can repeat the success of 1995,” said Di Maria. “We have the World Cup coming up this year, which we can aim to win, and if we win in Russia, hopefully we can win in Qatar as well.”
Di Maria, 29, is confident Argentina can lift world football’s most prestigious trophy for the first time since 1986 this summer after coming so close in Brazil.
“Argentina is always one of the favourites, first of all because we have Lionel Messi. There are other teams playing at a high level, like Spain and France, but Argentina is among the best.
“We have to keep working hard to remain at the top level. World Cup tournaments are always different to the qualifying rounds. If you don’t win, you go home, and that makes the games very special.”
Di Maria also heaped praise on Messi, who he described as the greatest player of all time.
“Messi is already the greatest,” added Di Maria, who has also turned out for Real Madrid and Manchester United. “Winning the World Cup would validate him, but he is already the best. Hopefully, football will give Messi this World Cup – it would be good for everyone.
“Messi has achieved everything in his career – the only thing missing is a World Cup. Obviously, as an Argentine and a team-mate of his, I would love for it to happen in Russia.” fifa.com