Lionel Messi ban was 'strange' timing, says Argentina boss Edgardo Bauza
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 29/03/17 10:45am
Argentina head coach Edgardo Bauza was critical of FIFA for handing Lionel Messi a four-game suspension hours before his side slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Bolivia.
Juan Carlos Arce and Marcelo Martins were on target as Bolivia claimed a comfortable victory at Estadio Hernando Siles to dent Argentina's hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup.
However, much of the focus was on Barcelona playmaker Messi, who was banned for four international matches for abusing an assistant referee during last Thursday's win over Chile.
Argentina plan to appeal the ruling, but with the ban handed down hours before kick-off Bauza was left bemused by the timing of FIFA's announcement.
"When the rumour began to settle, the concern began to take on more volume," he said. "It seemed strange that in one day everything could be done, that we did not have time to make an appeal.
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"We did not have time to work with someone else. Now the corresponding procedure for the appeal is being processed."
With Colombia and Chile both winning, Argentina slipped to fifth in the South American qualification race - with only the top four teams earning an automatic ticket to Russia next summer.
Despite having had his tactics disrupted in the build-up, Bauza admitted his side had underperformed in the first half.
"We try to get prominence to Bolivia, the second half the team improved slightly," he added. "Bolivia won well. We must think in what's coming. We are alive and wanting to qualify for the World Cup.
"We know that this is going to be a struggle and we will keep fighting."