Sunil Chhetri on his World Cup favourites.
“It’s my third World Cup. I feel happiness and a lot of anxiety, I want the time to come. I'll try to take all the experience of the past two World Cups and dump it in Russia. I want to do well for my team,” says the Argentine striker Sergio Aguero.
The world of football has its fairytale, of the underdog overachieving, and breaking the barrier of poverty and social injustice. To many in strifetorn Latin America and Africa, the game provides an avenue for a better life, to haul families away from a daily struggle with drugs, crime, famine or poverty.
Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero has a similar story, growing up in the impoverished neighbourhood of Los Eucaliptos in Buenos Aires, where his parents Leonel Del Castillo and Adriana Aguero moved from their family homes in Tucuman when they were just 17 and 19.
A young Aguero had his battles — dinner most days was herbal tea and stale bread. However, his ball playing skills, encouraged by Leonel, took him to Independiente, for whom he made his professional debut in 2003, when he was just 15.
His footballing journey has taken him to Madrid and now Manchester and the diminutive striker has always been a fan favourite, scoring a plethora of goals and showing exemplary commitment.
Aguero’s record with the national team, though, has been less stellar as he has struggled to find his spot in the starting XI in a team already embellished with the likes of Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain. The very competitive Aguero would like to redeem his record at the quadrennial extravaganza, the World Cup, where he has zero strikes in eight appearances.
“It’s my third World Cup. I feel happi
ness and a lot of anxiety, I want the time to come. I'll try to take all the experience of the past two World Cups and dump it in Russia. I want to do well for my team,” the striker says.
Aguero, who has scored 36 goals for the national side, is happy with his recovery and is hoping for a starting role in Russia. “The knee is very good, it’s much better. I had an intense few weeks of training, and testing how the knee develops. I’ve already started training with the team normally,” the 29yearold adds. The striker underwent a knee operation in April that ruled him out of the later part of the 201718 season.
Eager to end La Albiceleste’s 32year barren run, Aguero says: “Any player would like to win a World Cup. I want a picture with the Cup, it’s the dream of all of us here.”
He, however, is not perturbed with the hype surrounding the Argentine team. The Manchester City forward is banking on the collective experience of the squad to improve upon its runnerup finish in the 2014 edition.
“The Argentine National Team is always expected to reach the final of the World Cup. We have a great team, the group has been strengthened with some smart additions,” he says. “Hopefully we can make a good World Cup.”
Urging the whole nation to rally behind the team as it tries to break its big tournament jinx, Aguero says: “I want all the 40 million Argentines to be with us. I want to tell them that we are going to try our best in the field. With the help of everyone it will be much easier. I hope everyone is with us in the World Cup, I send a hug to all Argentines.”
Fit and raring to go: Argentina’s Sergio Aguero during a training session in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires.afp
Deadly duo: Argentina’s chances in the World Cup will mainly depend on the performances of Aguero and the mercurial Lionel Messi.