Lionel Messi is refusing to shoulder the blame for the poor play of Argentina’s national team, which is on the verge of missing the World Cup for the first time since 1970.
Regarded by many as the world’s best player, Messi has failed to produce recently for Argentina, which dropped its last two World Cup qualifiers to Brazil and Paraguay - sides that have qualified for South Africa 2010.
“I’m not going to win a game by myself,” Messi said in an interview broadcast on Spain’s Radio 2. “It’s the responsibility of everyone on the team.”
Messi, contrary to rumours, said he gets along well with coach Diego Maradona, who has been blamed for the team’s failure to qualify easily with some of the world’s top players.
“My personal and professional relationship with Maradona is tremendous,” Messi said. “Not just with me, but with everybody. Working with Maradona - it’s impressive to see how he treats his players.”
Argentina is in fifth place in South American qualifying. The top four advance automatically to South Africa. No. 5 faces a playoff with the No. 4 team from North and Central America and the Caribbean for another spot.
Argentina wraps up qualifying on October 10 at home against Peru and on October 13 at Uruguay. “It’s important to win the last two games, playing well or poorly,” Messi said.