Kolkata: After the disappointing show at the Copa America, new Argentina soccer coach Alejandro Sabella is keen to rebuild the team around Lionel Messi that will begin its campaign for the 2014 World Cup with Friday's FIFA official international friendly match against Venezuela.
The 56-year-old Sabella, who has succeeded Sergio Batista after his contract was terminated by the Argentinian Football Association following the two-time world champions' elimination from the Copa America quarterfinals by Uruguay on their home soil, said on Wednesday that he wants to groom a good playmaker in the national squad, something that was always missing whenever the Barca star played in the Albicelestes colours.
Reiterating that Messi will lead the side till the team makes it to the World Cup 2014 finals, Sabella in his first official interaction here said: "He is the captain from now on. Messi will remain the captain till the end of World Cup 2014 qualification."
Sabella, however, has plans to make Messi burden-free by developing a couple of players, who can have a good co-ordination with the former.
"I am looking forward to make a good playmaker to make Messi comfortable. We are looking to build a couple of options. Looking for one or two players to build up a combination with him," he revealed.
The coach made it clear that the players were more important than him.
"I am looking forward to have a great understanding with Messi. It's important to build a good relationship with all the players. Players are more important than me," he said.
"Football in Argentina is a passion and I know there is a lot of expectation from me from the supporters," he added.
On his first outing as Argentina coach, Sabella said, "Yes, it's my first game in command of the team. It's very important to make a good beginning. Winning will give us confidence. This is the beginning of a long trip ahead and hope it finishes with qualification to the World Cup 2014."
Sabella admitted that he was nervous as both expectations and pressure are huge.
"It's a dream coming true to coach Argentina. I have two different feelings, both nervousness and excitement. Expectations and pressure are huge and it's a great responsibility."
Stating that he has already zeroed down on a strategy for tomorrow's game, Sabella said, "I will see players this evening. I have got an idea in my head. After two days of practice, hopefully I will decide by tomorrow."
Messi and Co. are scheduled to take the field this evening in a closed door session, followed by Venezuela.
Asked about the status of Boca Juniors star Juan Roman Riquelme ahead of their two friendlies against arch-rivals Brazil, the Argentine coach said, "He has muscles injury...a bit worried. Hopefully he will recover. Recuperation of players is very important."
Sabella also clarified that Carlos Tevez was left out of the India-bound squad as he was injured and had gained weight.
"All quality players are available for selection. Tevez was injured and gained excess weight during the team selection," he explained.
Sabella said that all the team members were very excited to play in India even as the artificial turf at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan would be a new experience for them.
"We are not used to playing on artificial turfs. It's not normal for us but we will try to adapt and play a good game," said Sabella.