DOHA, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni singled out Croatia midfielder Luka Modric for praise on Monday ahead of the teams' World Cup semifinal encounter.
Modric, 37, has defied the years by playing a pivotal role in Croatia's progress to the last four in Qatar.
He saved his best performance of the tournament so far with a sublime quarterfinal display against Brazil in which he played the full 120 minutes, helping to set up Bruno Petkovic for the 116th-minute equalizer and converting one of the penalties in the shootout.
According to Scaloni, the Real Madrid veteran should be appreciated for the example he sets both on and off the pitch.
"It's such a pleasure to see him play," Scaloni said. "He's a role model for so many of us, not because of his talent but his behavior."
Many have predicted that Modric will retire from international football after this tournament. But he told reporters after the win against Brazil that he could continue until Euro 2024.
"We should enjoy him and others like [Poland striker Robert] Lewandowski as much as we can," Scaloni said. "If you love football you have to enjoy watching these types of players."
Scaloni also appeared to raise the possibility that 35-year-old Argentina captain Lionel Messi could extend his international career beyond Qatar.
"We'll see whether he continues playing or not," Scaloni said. "We will keep enjoying it while we can. In the event things turn out well it would be great. We have our whole country backing us. But there is still a long way to go. Tomorrow [against Croatia] will be tough and we have to focus on that." ■