BUENOS AIRES - The war of words that often precedes critical matches took a twist on Tuesday when striker Carlos Tevez hit out at Argentines who question the players' commitment to the national team.
Defeats by Brazil and Paraguay in their previous two qualifiers, including a particularly lacklustre performance in Asuncion, last month have led to criticism being aired in the media as to the players' commitment.
"Do they think that when I go out to play for the national team I'm thinking of the millions I have in the bank? I don't need to be given money to play in the national team," Tevez said.
Speaking to reporters on arrival in Buenos Aires from England, Tevez said the Argentina players gave everything when they turned out for their country.
Argentina, fifth in the South American World Cup qualifying group, must beat Peru at home on Saturday and Uruguay away next week to be sure that at least they go through to a playoff for a berth at the 2010 finals in South Africa.
With the top four qualifying automatically and two of the berths having already been taken by Brazil (33 points) and Paraguay (30) and Chile (27) almost there, Argentina (22) face a tough race for fourth and fifth with Ecuador (23 points), Uruguay (21), Venezuela (21) and Colombia (20).
Tevez and defender Pablo Zabaleta were the last players to join coach Diego Maradona's squad at their base near the international airport at Ezeiza after playing for Manchester City on Monday evening.
Sharp barbs have also crossed between Argentina and Peru, who have nothing to lose on Saturday. They are bottom of the group with 10 points and out of the running.
Schalke 04 defender Carlos Zambrano said on arrival in Lima that he hoped Peru would get a victory that gave their team back some respect following criticism in the Argentine media.
"If we beat Argentina they'll cry and they'll also watch the World Cup on TV," the 20-year-old said.
"You shouldn't demean any national team even if we're going through a bad spell and are bottom of the table."
Tevez warned that Argentina could take nothing for granted against Peru.
"Nothing will come easy for us, we've just lost two qualifiers in a row," he said.comments