For two matches Franco Orozco languished on the bench, watching on as Argentina drew 0-0 with Spain and beat Cameroon 3-1 to collect four points and secure their place in the Round of 16 with a game to spare. Coach Pablo Aimar then decided to rotate his squad against Tajikistan and made six changes to the starting 11 that defeated the Indomitable Lion Cubs – including Orozco.
“I knew this day would come and prepared myself for it,” the forward told FIFA.com. “Of course everyone wants to play and nobody wants to be left out, but at the end of the day it’s about the team as a whole, not individual players,” he added modestly.
With two goals in the 38th and 78th minutes, the Club Atletico Lanus striker became a matchwinner in the Argentinians’ 3-1 victory over their Asian opponents.
“We’re happy to have got through the group stage unbeaten and my family are very pleased too,” Orozco continued. His parents, sister, girlfriend and her parents have travelled from their homeland to support him.
“Two days before a match we see each other for two hours and can spend time together. Of course, they’re all there in the stadium cheering me and the team on. They all wave flags and wear shirts with my number on the back, and after the game we can have a brief chat too. That means a lot to me.”
Argentina’s next challenge is an all-South American encounter against Paraguay. “Knowing them well is definitely an advantage,” the 17-year-old said, “but it works the other way around as well. We didn’t lose to them in two qualifying matches [3-0 / 2-2 – editor’s note], so we know how they play, particularly how physical they are.”
As for whether the Neymar and Liverpool fan will start Thursday’s match (20:00 local time), coach Aimar reveals his team selection no more than 24 hours before kick-off, and often only on the morning of the game itself.
“If I’m back on the bench, that’s completely okay, as then I can cheer my team on,” Orozco said. “Argentina are always among the title favourites and that’s also the case at this tournament. But to come away with something, we all need to pull together. That’s the only way we can ultimately succeed.”