Lima: Peru are unlikely to man-mark Argentina forward Lionel Messi in the teams’ crucial World Cup qualifier on Thursday, according to coach Ricardo Gareca.
Peru are currently fourth in the South American zone’s Conmebol standings and will secure a berth in their first World Cup finals since 1982 if they beat Argentina in Buenos Aires and Colombia in Lima five days later.
“Messi is a player who is admired all over the world,” Gareca said.
“We have never man-marked anybody and we’re not likely to do it,” he added.
“We will be totally prepared for whatever comes our way. We are in good shape physically, psychologically and also from a football standpoint and we believe we can achieve our objective.”
Andre Carrillo, Christian Cueva, Paolo Hurtado and Christian Ramos will miss the match at the Bombonera due to suspension while striker Jefferson Farfan remains under an injury cloud.
“Despite the absences we are confident of playing well against Argentina,” Gareca said.
“These are going to be decisive matches and by keeping a positive mindset we will hopefully get the result we want.”
The top four teams in the Conmebol group will automatically qualify for the World Cup while the fifth-ranked side will advance to an intercontinental play-off.