Monday 14 October 2019

Mauricio Pochettino: I was in Cardiff for Argentina's fantastic win over Ireland

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino
Action Images via Reuters / John Sibley
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino Action Images via Reuters / John Sibley

Mark Bryans

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino is likely to be twiddling his thumbs impatiently as he flies back to London after Sunday's Premier League clash at Bournemouth.

That is because the 43-year-old Argentinian is an avid follower of rugby and will be keen to know how Argentina are faring in their semi-final clash with Australia at Twickenham.

Having finished third in the 2007 World Cup, the Pumas will be hoping to go one step further and reach the final of this year's tournament.

To do that Daniel Hourcade's side must upset the odds and see off a strong Wallabies team, with plenty of support coming from back home.

Pochettino was in the crowd at the Millennium Stadium for the quarter-final victory over Ireland but he will be otherwise engaged on Sunday as his Spurs side look to record a victory at the Vitality Stadium.

"I was at Cardiff last Sunday," he said following Tottenham's Europa League defeat in Anderlecht.

"It was fantastic - but I am focused on important game and then to see what happened with Argentina in the rugby.

"I think we fly on Sunday, so it will be difficult to see on the plane. I enjoy rugby always. I am a rugby fan, because in my time when I was in France (playing for Paris Saint-Germain and Bordeaux) a lot of Argentine players were at the Stade de France.

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"I was a fan always because in Argentina the tradition of rugby is massive. I remember Hugo Porta (Argentina's second-highest points score of all time) from when I was a boy. The tradition in Argentina is like in England - rugby is like a religion - rugby is one of the most important things."

The Murphy-born manager may not be able to watch Sunday''s semi-final as he will be carrying out his post-match duties and flying back from the south coast - but his family will be keeping him up to date with proceedings in south-west London.

"It is difficult to not find out the score because my wife and kid will be watching the game," he said.

"They will be keeping in touch with me by phone. It is impossible for them to keep the information away from me.

"But I am sure Argentina have the possibility to win because they arrived in a good position and they are very fit and everyone is available. But Australia will be difficult."

Having made his name as a central defender who played in Argentina, Spain and France, picking up 20 international caps along the way, Pochettino still does not feel he would have ever been cut out for a career with the oval ball.

"I could never have been a rugby player," he added.

"I am not brave enough, like them. Yes I was a defender, but when you watch rugby you realise it is a very difficult sport and you need to be very, very, very brave."

PA Media

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