FIFA WC 2018: Argentina is ready, says goalkeeper Caballero

Moscow: Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero has insisted that the two-time world champions are well prepared for the 2018 FIFA World Cup despite playing only one warm-up match.

The Argentines beat Haiti 4-0 in Buenos Aires on May 30 before a friendly against Israel slated for June 9 was cancelled, reports Xinhua news agency.

“It’s true that with the cancellation of the match against Israel we had less match practice,” Caballero told a press conference on Wednesday.

Argentina will debut in the tournament against Iceland here on Saturday before meeting Croatia and Nigeria in Group D.

Caballero, who plays for Mexico’s Tigres UANL, is expected to be the team’s first-choice goalkeeper following a serious knee injury suffered by Sergio Romero late last month.

“The important thing is to be ready on Saturday and I’m convinced that we prepared as best we could,” the 36-year-old said.

“We’ve done a lot of physical work and as a result we are very fit. We’ve also done a lot of collective training, working on both defensive and attacking aspects.”

Caballero said that anything less than a semi-final appearance would be considered a failure in Russia. But he recognized that only a victory in the final on July 15 would atone for Argentina’s extra-time loss to Germany in the decider of the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

“It’s going to be very difficult but we are going to give our all in every match,” he said.

“We’ll leave our soul on the pitch and hopefully that will allow us to get further than last time.”