Chile manager Juan Antonio Pizzi took great pride in steering his country to victory in Sunday’s Copa America final against a team he believes to be the best side in the world, with the best player in history.
The 4-2 penalty shootout victory was the second in a row for Chile, who also triumphed over world No 1 Argentina and their lynchpin Lionel Messi after a 0-0 stalemate in last year’s final at home in Santiago.
‘It’s always very hard to predict when a match is going to be decided by penalty kicks,’ Pizzi, who took over the fifth-ranked Chileans in January, told reporters.
Chile boss Juan Antonio Pizzi patrols the touchline against Argentina in the Copa America Centenario final
Pizzi (centre) yells out to his players during the second half of the Copa’s finale in East Rutherford, New Jersey
‘Both last year and this year we ended up winning, but I think it speaks to the parity between both line-ups, both teams and the mutual respect we have for each other and surely it will go on that way.
‘Now we’re going to enjoy ourselves.’
Pizzi said he was proud of the way his team rose to the occasion to overcome the star-studded Argentine side and Messi, who missed a penalty in the shootout and then announced he was retiring from international football.
‘Before them today was the No 1 team in the world, with the best players in the world and the best player in history,’ he said.
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino, whose side failed to end their 23-year title drought in major international competitions, was understandably downbeat but said his team must have the resilience to come back from disappointment.
Argentina maestro Lionel Messi (left) runs past Chile star Arturo Vidal (No 8) during the final
‘We really had high hopes but are leaving empty handed,’ he said.
‘Regarding today’s match, Argentina should have won in 90 minutes. And should have won in extra time and we were not able to win.
‘Really, it is not easy to explain, because there are situations we can explain football-wise and other situations that can be explained, if you will, talking about our luck.
‘Next time … we have to come and do it. They represent the national team and feel pride in wearing the national jersey and it’s there that they find the will to really foster hope again.’
Gerardo Martino’s side failed to end their 23-year title drought in major international competitions