Lionel Scaloni said Lionel Messi’s absence has forced Argentina to play as a team, though he hopes the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will return to the international fold.
Messi was once again absent as Argentina eased past Iraq 4-0 on Thursday in the first game of a four-team tournament that also features Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
The Barcelona superstar’s future with Argentina is uncertain, having not been included in either of the country’s two squads following their last-16 exit at the World Cup.
With Messi’s future up in the air, interim head coach Scaloni said Argentina must adopt a different approach.
“I hope Messi is in the future, he is the best player in the world,” Scaloni said during his post-match news conference.
“If he is not, we should try to play as a team, that is the idea, that we play as a team and we are difficult to beat.”
Lautaro Martinez scored his first goal for Argentina on his full debut, while Roberto Pereyra, German Pezzella and Franco Cervi were also on target.
It was an experimental side without the likes of Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh.