Scaloni hails Argentina's grit after making Copa final

EDUARDO MUNOZ/ AFP

Argentina's path to the Copa America final has been no bed of roses, coach Lionel Scaloni said, as he praised his players for their performance in Tuesday's 2-0 semi-final win over Canada.

Canada, ranked 48th in the world, played high-energy football and looked to turn the match into a physical battle but Argentina's quality shone through in the end.

Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi scored to secure Argentina's spot in the final of a third straight major tournament after their victories at the 2022 World Cup and Copa America in 2021.

"It is extremely tough to reach another final. It is tough because we know how hard it is to get there," Scaloni told reporters.

"The bar has been set very high. Everyone thought it was going to be a bed of roses and it wasn't like that at all. Canada proved it today by being a very difficult opponent."

This edition of the Copa America is likely to represent the last chance for many senior squad members to add to their trophy collection with the national team.

Angel di Maria, 36, said last year he would retire from international football after the Copa America, while Messi, 37, and Nicolas Otamendi, 36, are both nearing the end of their careers.

"You know how I feel about Angel. We don't want to retire him earlier than needed," Scaloni said.

"We don't want to feel melancholy. We have to let him play, and then we'll see if we can convince him or not to stay with us. But so far, he's here, and he has to be allowed to enjoy this moment.

"For Leo (Messi), it's similar to Angel. We have to let him be and we will never be the ones to close the door. He can be with our team for as long as he wants to be. And if he wants to retire but still come and hang around, it would be great."

In Sunday's final, Argentina could face either Uruguay, who beat them in a World Cup qualifier in November, or Colombia, who are on a 27-match unbeaten run under coach Nestor Lorenzo.

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