Argentina ready for France
Elated Argentine scrum-half Agustin Pichot declared on Thursday that his side will be ready for all that France can throw at them in Sunday's World Cup quarter-final in Dublin.
Argentina qualified for the last eight of the tournament for the first time with an epic 28-24 win over Ireland in Lens on Wednesday night. Pichot, whose inspirational run in the second half ultimately set up the only try of the match against a woeful Ireland, said that while the Pumas were battered and bruised their main problem is mental tiredness.
"We need to relax for a day and get over the match because it took a lot out of us mentally," said the 22-year-old.
"You cannot afford to be at less than 100 percent mentally against the French so we will have to recapture the spirit of last night."
Pichot, who plays for English club Bristol, claimed that being underdogs helped the Argentine team's preparations. "Nobody gave us a chance against Samoa or Ireland, so who says we can't beat France?" he asked.
"The French haven't played well in the World Cup and they will be ready to throw everything at us - but we will be ready for them."
Pichot, who said the Argentines had changed their game plan of
concentrating on kicking at the start of the second half in a bid to disrupt the Irish rhythm. He said that a win over France would do wonders for the sport's profile at home.
"For once, after the win over Ireland, football will be second to us in the newspapers and if we beat France all the better because we will be giving our beloved sport the coverage it deserves," he said.
"The win over Ireland is one of the most important things to happen to Argentinian rugby but victory on Sunday would be even more so as it would be a win for a largely amateur side over one of the world powers.
"While some of us are professionals, most are amateurs and the sport in our country does not have the money to create a professional set-up. This should give it the boost it needs."
Pumas coach Alex Wyllie, who guided the All Blacks to the 1991 semi-finals, claimed that the French match will not be as one-sided as it looks on paper.
"It will be a very hard game on Sunday, but France have a lot to prove," the grizzled veteran said.
Pumas captain Lisandro Arbizu, who plays for French side Brive, said that the Argentinians had one asset that the French are lacking.
"We believe in ourselves and the win over Ireland will only add to our self-confidence," the 28-year-old said.