- Capital: Buenos Aires
- National Language: Spanish
- Recognised Languages: Guaraní, Quechua, Qom, Mocoví, Wichí & Welsh
- Nicknames: La Albiceleste (The White and Blues)
- Association: Asociación del Fútbol Argentino / Argentine Football Association (AFA)
- FIFA Code: ARG
- Best World Cup Result (Men): WINNERS (1978, 1986)
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Group Stage (2003, 2007, 2019)
- Best Copa América Result (Men): WINNERS (14 times)
- Best Copa América Femenina Result (Women): WINNERS (2006)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 1st (Various)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 27th (June 2008)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 24th (August 1996)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 38th (October 2003)
- Most Capped Player: Javier Mascherano – 147 caps
- Top Scorer: Lionel Messi – 71 goals (as of February 2021)
Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic (Spanish: República Argentina), is a country that is predominately situated in the lower half of the continent of South America. The country is the fourth largest country by area in the Americas and the eight largest in the world.
Football could almost be described as a way of life in Argentina with their supporters being some of the most passionate in the world. The national team has had a very long and proud history since it’s first ever international fixture in 1901, away against Uruguay, with Argentina winning the game by 3 goals to 2. Over the years Argentina have been very successful in FIFA World Cups and have appeared in five finals. Their first came in the inaugural World Cup held in Uruguay in 1930 – losing the final to the hosts by 4 goals to 2. Their most recent appearance in a World Cup Final came in 2014 when they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Germany. Their first World Cup triumph came in 1978 when, as the host country, they beat the Netherlands 3-1 at the Estadio Monumental in front of 71,000 adoring fans. Eight years later they were kings of the world again when they won the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, beating West Germany 3-2.
When people think about Argentine footballers it would be fair to say that naturally two players come to mind quite quickly – Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. However, Argentina have also been blessed with countless world class players as well as the aforementioned greats of the game. Some of these football legends include the likes of Alfredo Di Stéfano, Mario Kempes, Osvaldo Kempes, Daniel Passarella and more recently Hernán Crespo and Gabriel Batistuta. Of course there are many more and the list could go on and on which tells you what a strong football nation Argentina is.
To find out more about one of the giants of the world game, we spoke to the excellent Cristian Toncheff, an Argentine footballer and coach who started his career with the great and iconic Buenos Aires side, Boca Juniors. Cristian has his own blogsite which is well worth a read and is also on twitter – links to both can be found below:
- Twitter: @CToncheff
- Blositeg: El blog de Cristian Toncheff/Sueño SER (catoncheff.blogspot.com)
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
Under my humble opinion and perception, I consider that Diego Armando Maradona is the best player in all of Argentine history. All contemporaries from every corner of the world were able to see what his farewell was, after his death, and what he left as a footballer. More than numbers and titles, he left his myth and legend to those of us who enjoy his football.
As a coach I consider César Luis Menotti as the best coach, marking a turning point with his philosophy of the game and good football.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
I believe without a doubt that Diego was a hero for the Argentines, since he had the ability to bring to humble homes a smile and moments of joy next to the ball, which allowed people to forget their lives and problems for at least 90 minutes, all with his talent and football.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player in the Argentina national side currently?
Currently Leo Messi is undoubtedly in addition to our best player one of the best in the history of world football, also carrying impeccable values as an athlete.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
The current state, analysed from the performance point of view, is acceptable, but it still fails to fully meet expectations. Either because of the incessant search to continue with a philosophy based on making the star shine, (Barcelona philosophy), for which I do not share, since representing a team like Argentina is to go without prejudice or wait for our best player to shine. If he does not shine there is no selection. I believe that each footballer who dresses with this privilege should give the best version of him, and not go to make a star shine, but to go to make a country, a history, a present better.
Q. Are there any Argentine players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
In Argentina there are footballers that nobody has seen yet. They are in remote places, waiting for opportunities to help them grow, develop and not limit that process by prioritizing the lucrative vision, no matter how necessary the country forces you, you must ensure a footballer fulfil a process. I could name the 18/19 year-old footballer, Thiago Almada, a midfielder/winger from Vélez Sarsfield, or Aníbal Moreno, a midfielder currently at Newell’s Old Boys, who played in the U-20 World Cup and participated in the Pan American Games.
Q. Looking at Argentina’s long international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
Because of what the 1986 World Cup in Mexico meant for the country, it was the best result, since it took place under a hostile scenario. Few trusted that team, and the country also had suffered great losses after the confrontation for the Malvinas (Falkland Islands). I believe that it should never have happened, but everything made that cup win take more value, due to its difficulties and adversities with which a world championship was faced. And I think that the 1994 World Cup team brought together its own footballers to enjoy good football too.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
It could be considered as a low point to be eliminated from the 2002 World Cup in the group stage.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Argentina national team?
The best things about being a fan of the Argentina team is the passion for our team, in addition to knowing that soccer history forces us to fulfil a legacy to seek to be the best.
The worst sometimes is the step that divides passion with violence, and believing that that same story alone will guarantee us success. As an Argentinian, I consider that putting our feet on the ground and using humility to accept that we are not currently a strong team, and from that point on, we all go to the same place, or goal, leaving the past behind and with work and perseverance return to to be that team that we all want, and to re-represent the Argentine who reinvents himself every morning to survive and continue fighting despite adversity.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
Yes, they have adopted one that says; “And give him, give him a selection, Argentina you know, that even if you play in Russia I will follow you, you are my madness, put courage and heart, today we cannot lose”
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
Without a doubt, that shirt from the World Cup in Mexico 1986.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Argentinian national team?
I have hope and faith that there will be a birth of new football, mainly from the values, and ending with good football.
A massive gracias to Cristian for answering our questions on the Argentine national team. Remember you can find their excellent blogsite and social media accounts in the links at the top of the blog page.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to the author @Gareth19801, or the editor @The94thMin on Twitter.