Maradona: “We’re Going to Suffer with Brazil, but Don’t Forget that We’re Argentina”
By Dialogo July 30, 2009The Argentine team will assuredly suffer in its next match in the South American qualifying rounds for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, as it will be hosting Brazil, which has great players, coach Diego Maradona admitted in an exclusive interview with daily Olé. But the head coach of the national team issued an invitation not to forget that Argentina is a powerhouse when analyzing the crucial match, which will be played on 5 September, probably in the city of Rosario, three hundred kilometers north of Buenos Aires. “Nobody made us a gift of anything. Brazil isn’t going to come and say, ‘Go ahead, boys, it’s all yours.’ We’re going to suffer, we’re going to be facing a team that plays well, that has great players, that’s on a roll, that’s been playing well for a long time and has World Cups,” Maradona said. But he immediately warned that “We’re Argentina, don’t forget.” Maradona also insisted on the importance that Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona, Spain) now has on the team, remarking that “he’s my Maradona. There’s no player more important than Messi. On my first-string team there’s ‘Masche’ (Javier Mascherano), Messi, and nine other guys.” “I love working with him; he makes everything easy. He’s got the ball glued to his foot; it’s part of his body. I’ve never seen that in any other player. But Messi has to be Messi. He has to grow like I grew, with his own ideas. He’s an exceptional kid,” Maradona said, full of praise for the player. With four matches left in the South American qualifying rounds, in which four teams will qualify and a fifth will have a chance at a wild-card slot, Brazil is leading with 27 points, followed by Chile (26), Paraguay (24), Argentina (22), Ecuador (20), Uruguay (18), Colombia and Venezuela (17), Bolivia (12), and Peru (7). “We’ve got four tough matches, but we’re gunning for the Brazilians. Brazil is the team to beat,” Maradona indicated. Brazil will be trying to stamp its passport to South Africa in 2010 with this game, while Argentina urgently needs the win. With regard to the controversy over the possible change of location for the qualifying matches from the traditional Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires to Gigante de Arroyito Stadium in Rosario, where the fans are closer to the field, he said that it was not ideal. “It’s not what I wanted,” he noted. “The players were the ones who asked me for it. But the atmosphere that we could get is going to be totally different,” Maradona said.