South American giants breathe a sigh of relief after the draw sees them face Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria
Argentinians breathed a huge sigh of relief after a kind draw added to the already vibrant optimism here in Buenos Aires regarding the national team's chances for the 2014 World Cup.
"It's been a positive draw," said the Argentina coach, Alejandro Sabella. "We know Bosnia because we played against them recently. I know less about Iran and as for Nigeria, we know them because we've played them in a few World Cups, they are very strong physically."
Argentina's first match on 15 June in Rio de Janeiro will be against Bosnia and Herzegovina, whom they defeated in the United States last month, winning 2-0. They will also be confident of winning their matches against Iran and Nigeria, having beaten the latter team in all of their three World Cup games (1994, 2002 and 2010).
"I'm glad there's no complicated rival," was the immediate reaction of the well-known TV sports commentator Guillermo Poggi while the internet edition of the Buenos Aires daily La Nación ran a headline saying: "Argentina got lucky".
Alejandro Mancuso, a former international and a good friend of Diego Maradona admitted that it was "a very favourable draw" while others took it for granted that Argentina would win their group, such as the journalist Rodis Recalt who tweeted: "We're already in the second rounds. He even added: "We're champions."
Nonetheless, the Group F "curse" did not go unnoticed. "No team from the Group F has ever won a World Cup," commented La Nación ominously as it assessed the significance of the group for Argentina's chances. But the group does have the advantage that matches will be played at stadiums around the team's base in Belo Horizonte.
Argentinians on Friday credited some "divine intervention" by the Argentinian-born pope – an ardent football fan – for what they see as a lucky draw. "The pope prayed for this group, no doubt," tweeted Marcelo Larraquy, author of a biography of Francis.
"If one Argentinian did this in Brazil, imagine what 23 can do," says a World Cup advert by the Argentinian TV sports channel TyC, over footage of pope Francis speaking before a crowd of three million people during his papal visit to Rio de Janeiro in July.
Argentinians always reserve their most ominous thoughts for the hosts, Brazil, a traditional rival. "Argentina can't have to wait any longer for another title," the former national team coach Carlos Bilardo said in a recent interview, looking back at the last Argentina World Cup victory in 1986.