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Copa America: Messi fit to play against Canada in semis, confirms coach Scaloni

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Copa America: Messi fit to play against Canada in semis, confirms coach Scaloni

New Jersey (USA), July 9 (IANS) Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni has confirmed that Lionel Messi will be fit to play against Canada in the Copa America semifinal on Wednesday.

Messi’s fitness was in doubt after the striker missed the last group stage match against Peru due to thigh complaint. However, he returned for the quarterfinal against Ecuador and completed 90 minutes, although did miss from the spot in the penalty shootout.

In the pre-match press conference, Scaloni ruled out any fitness concern and said it was no brainer for them to decide on Messi’s inclusion as they would have played him even in case of not fully fit.

“99% of the time, [Messi] is fit to play. It’s never happened to me that he’s not fit to play. Every time he’s come out on the pitch, he’s fit to play. For (Canada), he’s fit to play, without a doubt. It’s a very easy decision for me, because it’s a very frank decision, that if he’s fine, he plays; and if he’s not fine, he plays the last 30 minutes. It’s that easy,” Scaloni said.

“When he’s fit, he always plays. There are no doubts. Who would have any doubts? I’m the coach, so I have no doubts. I’m the one who decides and when I see that he’s fit to play, even if he’s not 100% fit, he’s going to play. I take responsibility for that but I have no doubts. It’s true that that won’t ever weigh on me, I know what he can give us even if he’s not in optimal condition, I wouldn’t make the grave mistake of not putting him on the pitch knowing that he gives us a lot, so that’s indisputable,” he added.

A win against Canada will steer Argentina to their fourth Copa America final in the space of five tournaments in the last decade. This could be Messi’s final international competition, as he will be 39 by the time the next World Cup takes place in 2026.

However, with a third-place play-off included, Argentina is assured at least one extra game regardless of the Canada semifinal outcome.

 

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