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Pumas in fighting form

By Gavin Mairs

Argentina coach Marcelo Loffreda has warned his side that they can't afford to take their foot of the gas as they begin preparations to kill off Ireland's World Cup hopes.

A nine-try 63-3 romp against Namibia in Marseilles on Saturday night, took Los Pumas to the top of pool D and a victory over Ireland on Sunday, would secure top place and a quarter-final against either Scotland or Italy in Paris.

Argentina already have "previous" in terms of knocking Ireland out of the World Cup, their 1999 victory in the quarter-final play-off against Warren Gatland's side being widely-regarded as the lowest point in Irish rugby history.

Eight years later however, and it is Ireland who will go into the game as massive underdogs and Loffreda is determined that his side go into the Parc des Princes clash with a ruthless edge.

"In truth our fate lies in our own hands and we must concentrate on playing well for Argentina, not necessarily for Ireland or France," said Loffreda.

"Before the World Cup, people were saying Argentina wouldn't get through the group stage and now it looks like we are on top (of Pool D).

"For us, we have said the objective is to win the four matches. Ireland is a strong team. We will all try to finish first (in Pool D).

The Argentine squad enjoyed a relaxing day yesterday, and Loffreda, who unlike his counterpart Eddie O'Sullivan, has not be afraid to utilise all of his 30-man squad, revealed that at this stage of the tournament, his focus in training with be on strategy and mental approach rather than hard work on the training paddock.

"We need to look at each player's load and mental aspects," he added.

"They are working very hard and have been training since July. Tuesday we will get back into work. We'll alternate between the gym and the training ground until Sunday.

" It's important now to work on quality, not intensity, because we've already achieved intensity. We need to work on tactics, strategies and eliminating errors.

Leinster out-half Felipe Contepomi, who knows the Irish squad inside out and will provide vital information on their opponents to his coach, gave a chilling insight into Los Pumas' current mindset.

"I don't care about Ireland," he said. "We have to prepare in a good way because when we are ok mentally, we are a very tough team to beat. Ireland will have one last chance against us and we need to be prepared for that. We have to win, at all costs, in this group of death."

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