We're angry but there is a conviction - Argentina coach

Australia who have the in-form Aaron Mooy have qualified for three World Cups in a row

Australia who have the in-form Aaron Mooy have qualified for three World Cups in a row

Chile were under Argentine-born former Spain striker Juan Antonio Pizzi when they stunned Argentina again a year later in the final of the Centenary Copa America in the United States, also on penalties after another 0-0 draw. They have the altitude factor going their way since Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa sits at nearly 3,000 meters above sea level.

Buenos Aires: Argentine coaches working in South America have done their national team a few bad turns over the past two years and Jorge Celico could deny the twice champions and 2014 runners-up a place at the World Cup in Russian Federation next year.

The teams finishing second, third and fourth qualify directly for Russian Federation 2018, while the fifth-placed side go into a play-off against New Zealand.

The side are placed a precarious sixth in the South American standings, though a win over Ecuador would enable them to assure at least a play-off place against New Zealand.

They followed up a 0-0 with Argentina, in which neither team showed any intent whatsoever to score, with another 0-0 away to Venezuela.

"This is a team that is mentally strong and we are capable of getting out of these situations", said Falcao to reporters.

Bear in mind that La Albiceleste have lost two out of their last three World Cup qualifiers in the Ecuadorian capital while drawing the other. Every team between third and seventh could claim the automatic qualification spot based on results elsewhere on the continent.

Messi, who remains Argentina's all-time top scorer with 58 goals, has had a turbulent time with the national team, being accused by his own fans of favouring club duty over his worldwide team - ever prompting the forward to declare his retirement last summer, before reversing his decision. To make things even more complicated, they have not won in Quito since 2001. A loss in Lima is a "nyet" to Russian Federation.

And Venezuela's poor campaign over three years in no way reflects the team they have now.

With the only group leader assured of an automatic qualification from the UEFA section, Ronaldo and company face the real threat of finishing second and navigating a potentially tricky play-off tie in order to qualify for Russian Federation 2018.

Celico, little known in his native Argentina, could help to dash the hopes of Lionel Messi's team if his Ecuador side deny them the win they need in their final qualifier on Tuesday in the tricky venue of Quito at high altitude in the Andes.

The author is an aspiring filmmaker and a diehard Liverpool fan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

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