Moscow: Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday said that Argentina star Lionel Messi would not have missed the penalty against Iceland in their FIFA World Cup group match had the former champions played Israel in the warm-up match.
Argentina missed out on two crucial points after they were held to a 1-1 draw against debutants Iceland in their group D clash on Saturday.
The ace Argentine striker missed a penalty in the 64th minute, as the ball was successfully defended by goalkeeper annes Halldorsson.
They stand third in the points table with one point, with Croatia (three points) and Iceland (one point) in the first and second place respectively.
“In the Argentina vs. Iceland game, you could see how much Messi needed the practice game against Israel,” Lieberman tweeted after the match.
Meanwhile, he praised the Icelanders for their performance, saying, “Well done to the Iceland team, a small country with 350,000 residents and a great team.”
The Israeli and Palestinian football associations traded accusations earlier this month over the cancellation of a World Cup warm-up match between the Jewish state and Argentina in the disputed city of Jerusalem.
Israel accused the Palestinians of “football terror,” saying their threats saw Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and his team abandon what would have been Argentina’s final friendly match ahead of the World Cup.
The Palestinians rejected the allegation, saying the Argentinians pulled out of the match as they realised Israel was using their presence for political gain.
The encounter was called off after a campaign by the Palestinians following its relocation to Jerusalem.
The South American outfit next face Croatia on Thursday, who are coming fresh from a 2-0 win over Nigeria.