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Bauza laments Messi absence as Argentina boss remains defiant

8:14 AM GMT+4 29/03/2017
Edgardo Bauza was less than impressed by Lionel Messi's ban handed down by FIFA on the day of Argentina's qualifier in Bolivia.

Edgardo Bauza bemoaned the timing of Lionel Messi's suspension after Argentina's woes were compounded in a stunning loss to Bolivia as the head coach remained defiant.

Named in Bauza's starting XI on Monday, captain and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi was banned by FIFA on the day of Argentina's 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat in Bolivia.

Messi was forced to watch from the sidelines on Tuesday after insulting a match official in last week's win over Chile and Bauza was less than impressed.

Argentina could miss the World Cup

"What surprised us was the little time we were given to release a legal response," Bauza said. "We had half an hour to send the first note. And after that, during the night hours, we stayed until four in the morning for the second note.

"It's strange because FIFA gives you the possibility to deliver an opinion to anyone who can be sanctioned. Not only he couldn't play, but we didn't have time to work with anyone else."

It was a match to forget for Argentina as Bolivia took advantage of Messi's absence to heap pressure on Bauza.

Juan Carlos Arce and Marcelo Martins struck against a depleted Argentina, who dropped outside the automatic qualifying spots in CONMEBOL, down to fifth following Chile's win at home to Venezuela.

However, Bauza insisted he will continue to fight as he looks ahead to Russia 2018.

"We tried to get the lead in Bolivia, in the second half the team improved a bit," he said. "Bolivia won well. We have to think about what is coming, we are alive and desiring to qualify for the World Cup.

"We know this is going to be a fight and we will continue fighting.

"I'm not bothered by anything, nobody, or what they say. The fight will continue."