Sampaoli vows to go all out against Singapore
Argentina coach says his team will approach match against Singapore the same way they treated Brazil clash
He hardly smiled when he was ushered before the Argentine press on June 1, and perhaps it should have come as no surprise.
Jorge Sampaoli was unveiled as the new coach of the Albiceleste, and with the job came a massive weight on his shoulders: Get Argentina to the World Cup.
Argentina are second in the Fifa world order, but their recent performances - and results - have hardly lived up to the billing.
They are fifth in the 10-team South American qualifying group - where the top four gain entry to the World Cup, and the fifth face a play-off against a team from Oceania - and a whopping 11 points behind group leaders Brazil.
But Sampaoli defeated Brazil in a friendly in Melbourne last Friday, in his very first game in charge.
However, there was still no smile on the former Sevilla coach as he walked into the press conference room at the National Stadium yesterday.
He strode to his seat in the middle of the stage, and sat like a boxer at a weigh-in: shoulders tightly coiled and steely eyes locked on to anyone asking a question.
Sampaoli is expecting his team to approach the Singapore match the same way they treated the Brazil game, even if tonight's match is to mark the 125th anniversary of the Football Association of Singapore.
"The team is very well after that preparation game against Brazil. It will be a difficult game against Singapore, and this is part of the journey getting the team ready (towards qualification for the 2018 Fifa World Cup)," he said through an English translator.
"What we will be looking for in this game will be the development of defensive organisation, which has a lot to do with pressuring to recover the ball immediately."Argentina's manager Jorge Sampaoli
He then added: "We will approach the match against Singapore, just as we did approach the match against Brazil. On top of that, due to the big difference between the teams, this is an opportunity for us to put down our ideas and surely the preparation we are taking for this match will show its colours tomorrow, where we will hopefully have a great game to enjoy the great attacking power of the Argentine attack."
Singapore may be celebrating history, but Sampaoli is clearly looking to write his own - and Argentina's.
He said: "What we will be looking for in this game will be the development of defensive organisation, which has a lot to do with pressuring to recover the ball immediately.
"In the game against Singapore, what we can do is be very aggressive defensively with the 10 players on the field."
With the likes of Paulo Dybala and Angel di Maria in his ranks, Sampaoli has no shortage of attacking stars.
But, he is looking for more than just flair and creativity from them.
"The variety of attackers lets us experiment with the varieties against Singapore. We have many offensive players and we will have to see how they play with the defensive part of the team," he said.
"With the opportunity we have, it's important to see the enthusiasm of the players to recover the ball as soon as we lose it.
"With reference to new players, we will have to base it on analysis we have made during our current tour, past performances, pending chats where we will be able to tell who belongs to this team and who doesn't."
With this, Sampaoli abruptly strode out of the room, shoulders still tightly coiled.
His job has clearly just begun.