Speaking after the national side clinched qualification for the last 16 of Qatar 2022, Argentina skipper Lionel Messi has warned his teammates that "another World Cup begins now."
Argentina will face Australia in the next round after securing a 2-0 win over Poland in Doha on Wednesday. Making it through the group stage was challenging and Messi is keen that the side does not bask in the glory of qualification for too long.
The Albiceleste's fixture list got off to the worst start after a 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in their opening match. But Argentina turned things around with 2-0 wins over both Mexico and Poland to finish top of the group. The European side will join them in the last 16 after scraping through on goal difference.
"We have to be calm and take it one game at a time. Now another World Cup begins and hopefully we can continue what we did today," Messi told reporters after the match.
"The previous game [against Mexico] gave us a lot of peace of mind and we went out onto the pitch [today] thinking we had to win," he added.
Messi failed to score on Wednesday and also missed a penalty in the final minutes of the first half when the scores was level.
"I'm angry that I missed the penalty, but the team came out stronger after my mistake. We knew that when the first goal went in, it was going to change the game," he added.
Looking ahead to their opponents, the Albiceleste captain said: "The match with Australia is going to be very difficult. Anyone can beat anyone, it's all very evenly matched. We have to prepare for the game as well as we always do."