Lionel Messi vowed to “keep fighting” as Argentina attempt to overcome their World Cup Qualifying struggles and seal their place in next year’s tournament in Russia.
The two-time World Champions are fifth in South America qualifying, with only the top four team guaranteed a place in the 2018 World Cup.
“365 days left to Russia, let’s keep fighting for the dream!” Messi wote on his Facebook page on Thursday as Argentina bid to avoid missing the finals for the first time since 1970.
Jorge Sapmaoli’s side would face a two-legged play-off against the winner of the Oceania region – New Zealand or Solomon Islands – should they finish fifth. Argentina, without the suspended Messi, cashed to a 2-0 defeat in Bolivia in their most recent qualifier, but the Barcelona star’s fourth match band for swearing at an assistant referee has since been overturned by FIFA. He can now return when qualifying resumes in August with a clash against Uruguay, followed by matches against Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador.
Argentina have won only one of the eight World Cup 2018 qualifier played without Messi, compared to five out of six won with him on the pitch.