By Sylvester Okumu
Argentina exploded with relief when Leo Messi scored a hat-trick to drag his team into 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.
The four-time ballon d’Or winner gave a masterclass performance of what has been missing when he features for the national team.
He has perennially succeeded at club level winning every accolade possible but failed to impress at the country level. He led his team to the 2014 World Cup finals and lost to the well talented and organized Germany team.
Homes, bars, and restaurants in Argentina capital were filled to the brim and locals turn out to watch out their national team playing-a very defining moment for the team and country.
The streets of Buenos Aires were empty as people crowded over TV sets in their homes, restaurants, and bars watching their homeboy playing. Messi is viewed as one of the greatest player to ever grace the game but has failed to wow locals with his magical football skills because of poor performance at the national level.
Doom seemed to have been written all over their face when Argentina went a goal down just inside the first minute of a must-win match in Quito, Ecuador.
The team had been through a lackluster performance in the qualification series and when Ecuador’s Ibarra Romario struck they felt that that was the last straw to their hopes.
But Messi equalized in the 21st minute and went to score another goal inside the first half to restore hopes of the Argentinians faithful.
In the second half, Messi scored the third one making it a fancied win in Quito where the Argentina national team hadn’t won since 2001.
Jorge Sampaoli, the team coach praised Messi’s influence saying that the football owes the World Cup to the diminutive striker.
Argentina has been struggling economically with high-rising inflation, but the struggles of the national team have driven them into the doldrums.