Soccer-Canada coach Marsch eager for Argentina semi-final opportunity

International Friendly - France v Canada

(Reuters) - Canada coach Jesse Marsch said he is relishing the opportunity to take on heavyweights Argentina ahead of Tuesday night's Copa America semi-final at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Tournament debutants Canada opened their campaign against defending champions Argentina last month. Marsch said he is confident his side have come a long way since that first meeting and believes facing Argentina again at this stage will be a huge step forward for his team.

"What an incredible opportunity to continue to show further growth. It's not about how we can beat Argentina as much as how can we honour our development path and where are we trying to go and test ourselves at a very high level," Marsch told a news conference on Monday.

"Argentina is the best team in the world and you can see how aggressive and sharp they are, how good Messi is. There are things we did well when we played against them. I think knowing their level and quality will be an advantage for us," he added.

The 50-year-old American, who took over in May after being sacked by Leeds United and losing out to Gregg Berhalter for the United States job, has defied the odds with a historic run in the continental showpiece.

Canada, the lowest-ranked team in Group A, advanced ahead of Peru and Chile to reach the quarter-finals, where they drew 1-1 with Venezuela before winning on penalties.

"I never doubted my ability as a coach, but what I always doubted in this business was how to find the right people to work with," Marsch said. "I feel at home here. I felt how much they wanted me here, I wanted to get back to loving the game and this team has helped me find that."

(Reporting by Angelica Medina in Mexico City; Editing by Jamie Freed)