Pepe has blasted referee Facundo Tello after Portugal’s says the Argentine official should not have been appointed for their World Cup quarter final.
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Youssef En-Nesyri capitalised on Diogo Costa’s mistake in the first half to score the winning goal for Morocco, which makes them the first African country in history to reach the World Cup semi final.
Portugal, meanwhile, struggled to create clear-cut chances against a an organized Morocco defence, although Pepe missed a close-range header in injury time which would have forced extra time.
Speaking after Portugal’s defeat, Pepe hit out at FIFA’s decision to appoint a team of Argentine officials for the game and says he will now ‘bet everything’ on Argentina winning the tournament.
Pepe also believes the Argentine officials should have been pulled out of the game in the wake of Lionel Messi’s criticism of Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who gave out 17 yellow cards and one red card in Argentina’s victory over Netherlands in the quarter final.
‘I think FIFA must take care of this, it cannot put a referee like that for a match of such magnitude, of such importance. The referee cannot fail to be up to the task,’ Messi said last night.
When asked about his thoughts on Portugal’s World Cup exit, Pepe said FIFA’s decision to appoint the team of Argentine officials was ‘unacceptable’.
‘We were always on top of the game,’ Pepe told SIC Noticias. ‘We conceded a goal when we weren’t expecting it, but I have to say this – it is unacceptable for an Argentine referee to referee us today after what happened yesterday, with Messi and Argentina talking.
‘I’m not saying it’s conditional but what did we play in the second half? Anything? Their goalkeeper always slowed it down, only eight minutes of injury time were added on.
‘We work very seriously and the referee gives eight minutes of added time when we didn’t play anything in the second half.
‘The only team that wanted to play football was Portugal. We are sad, we had the quality to win the World Cup, unfortunately we didn’t.
‘It’s not anxiety, it’s anger, because we didn’t play or let us play in the second half.
‘Morocco stopped all our plays, many fouls. In the second half, there was a lot of time lost, the referee went over twice to talk to their goalkeeper to replace the ball as quickly as possible.
‘We tried to play our game, we were true to what we are, we worked hard and we fought until the last minute.
‘I leave with sadness, because we had the capacity to win this World Cup. The feeling and arrogance of the referee on the field, I can bet everything I have that Argentina will win the World Cup.
‘For what he did today… an Argentine referee, nine years of experience, five referees who were on the field today are Argentine. What more can I say? Let’s see at the end who will win.’