Football

Demichelis out to thwart former boss

Having been brought back in from the international wilderness, Argentina defender Martin Demichelis is now hoping to ruin the World Cup dream of his former coach Louis van Gaal in tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) semi-final against Holland.

The 33-year-old Manchester City defender had not featured at all before being called-up into the side for Saturday's quarter-final with Belgium.

Preferred to Federico Fernandez in central defence, Demichelis shone as Argentina triumphed 1-0 to progress to the last four.

He knows all about the threat posed by Arjen Robben, his former team-mate at Bayern Munich, and the tactical nous of van Gaal, under whom Demichelis played in the Bayern side that reached the Champions League final in 2010.

He has described van Gaal as "a great manager" and someone who is "very convinced about his own methods", so Demichelis knows the size of the task in store. But he is also savouring his return to international prominence after three years out of the picture.

"It means a lot in every sense. It is a reward for all those who helped me," he said after the Belgium win, which marked his 39th cap but his first competitive appearance for the Albiceleste since 2011.

A regular in Diego Maradona's side humbled 4-0 by Germany in the 2010 quarter-finals, Demichelis thought his international career was over after his mistake saw Argentina settling for a 1-1 draw with Bolivia in November the following year.

Argentina started poorly in the qualifying campaign for this World Cup with Demichelis a regular in the side. Against Bolivia, his error allowed Marcelo Martins to put the unfancied visitors ahead in Buenos Aires, and the crowd turned on him even after the hosts equalised.

"It was a tremendous blow. Nothing like that had ever happened to me in football," he told Argentine magazine El Grafico months later.

"To experience that reaction from the crowd, from the mistake until the end of the game, those were the longest, saddest and most unpleasant minutes I have endured on a pitch."

However, he still harboured hope of a recall, admitting: "There is nothing that makes an Argentine player more proud than pulling on the shirt of his country." - AFP

World Cup