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Argentina look nervously over their shoulders
3 hours, 28 minutes ago
By Brian Homewood
BUENOS AIRES, June 11 (Reuters) - Argentina’s latest away defeat in South American World Cup qualifying has left them looking nervously over their shoulders at a pack of teams who are closing in behind.
Beaten 2-0 in Ecuador on Wednesday amid growing doubts over Diego Maradona’s coaching abilities, Argentina remained in the top four where they need to finish to qualify directly for South Africa.
But their five-point cushion over fifth place—which would force them into a two-leg playoff against the fourth team from CONCACAF—has been eaten away.
Ecuador are lurking only two points behind on 20, Uruguay have 18 and Colombia and Venezuela 17 each.
Worryingly for Maradona, Argentina’s run-in features three of the toughest matches in the 18-game campaign.
They host a rampant Brazil in September and face a tricky visit to third-placed Paraguay, who have become direct rivals for a place.
After a straightforward game at home to table-propping Peru in October, they finish their 18-match programme at arch-rivals Uruguay—the last place they would want to go needing a win.
“We’ve put ourselves under pressure again and now we have to concentrate on beating Brazil,” said Maradona.
It is the first time Argentina have struggled since South America’s current system of qualifiers, in which all the teams play each other twice, was introduced for the 1998 World Cup.
Four years ago, Argentina qualified with three games to spare and in 2002, when an identical fixture list was used, a 2-0 win in Ecuador sealed their place in Japan and South Korea.
Having suffered in the shorter formats used previously, Argentina are big supporters of the present system which is often criticised by European clubs because of the number of transatlantic trips their South American players have to make.
In 1993, Argentina were forced into a two-leg playoff against Australia after finishing second in a four-team group behind Colombia who memorably beat them 5-0 in Buenos Aires.
Back in 1969, they failed to qualify altogether from a three-team group which also featured Bolivia and Peru.
Most commentators agreed there was a general improvement in Wednesday’s performance compared to Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Colombia, when Maradona’s team were in complete disarray.
The midfield formation, with Fernando Gago and Sebastian Battaglia in front of the defence, Maxi Rodriguez on the right and Jonas Gutierrez on the left, worked well for the first 70 minutes when Argentina created more chances than the hosts.
But they were made to pay for dreadful finishing which included a Carlos Tevez penalty miss in the first half.
Maradona admitted he had no idea how he would face the Brazilians.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do between here and the airport, let alone in three months time,” he was quoted as saying by the Clarin newspaper.
This certainly does not sound reassuring to me!
Whats Diego thinking saying that?
Yikes!! we all know that Diego is a hero in Argentina because of his playing skills, but sometimes, the great player can't be a great coach!
Daryl, that's what made me nervous. And that's what made me post about the concerns after the Colombia game at el monumental. You all thought a win is a win. I would of take that too, myself but we were never convincing in the Diego era, mate.
With Diego at the helm we are not going to win anything and we will probably see a sad Argentina national team. I remember the day he was appointed as head coach we started a poll at uol.ar. Most Argentines thought it will end in tears. I am afraid, It has all begun.
With Passarella as coach we knew what we were playing at when it was time to make it to World Cup. And before that, during qualifiers, even though we didn't play good football we at least won!!
With Bielsa we strolled through qualifiers beat up on all the teams that played us. When it was time for World Cup we created plenty of chances to score but didn't have the same thunder that we had 3 years prior, and ran out of gas when it mattered most.
With Perkerman our national team played the best football post 86 era! We had confidence in our style of football, we played relaxed and were deadly in the attacking area. He made one mistake, and it cost us the game. In my humble opinion he should of never left the national team, he was and is the perfect man for the job.
With Basile, we played great football during Copa America, very offensive great play. I truly believe that the loss to Brazil hurt him more than meets the eye. If you analyze our play during Copa America and then our games during qualifiers, we do not play the same type of game. Players that were deadly during Copa America did not play the same way during qualifiers. Cambiasso is a great example. During Copa America he was dangerous getting into the box coming down the lines, attacking and defending. During qualifiers, he never really pushed forward as he did previously as if he was given orders to push forward as he used to. Since the lost to Brazil in Copa America, the national team HAS ALWAYS PLAYED SCARED.
And finally with Diego. If you all at least notice one thing from all the other coaches that we had in the past, I hope you notice that every one of them had their identity with the way they wanted to play. The way they wanted the national team to play. With Diego, WE HAVE NO IDENTITY. Were a 11 guys on the field hoping that each others imagination and creativity hopefully gel together for a moment to create a play together, or God willing a scoring opportunity.
Whether its bad luck or what ever you want to call it, I believe the national team is in the problem that they are in for one main problems. One, poor logical judgment. How in the HELL is a man with no coaching experience, going to take our team to a Championship or at the very least play good football?
Because of our bad judgment we've opened Pandora's box and it doesn't appear that its going to close anytime soon. Lets be realistic, even if we beat Brazil and Paraguay, are we to believe that all our troubles will be gone?!? That Maradona will know how to coach, and set up the team? Because if you do, I'd sure hate to rain on your parade but I believe we are all in for a very rude awakening....
Well.....Maradona was a gamble. No doubt. I've been conflicted about it from day one.
But still...I'm willing to give it a bit more time. When they've got no choice but to win we'll see what this team is made of.
Personally I can't imagine a WC without Argentina. Until it's a fact (and it is by no means at this point) I'm going to live happily in denial.
Do most Argentinians feel the same way you do? Would they even dare remove him as coach since they think he is the best! I think just by the way he has led his life, it is obvious that he is not disciplined and organized enought to lead a great football team to victory.
Juan I totally agree with you on the issue of how we played from 1998. Diego needs to remain calm. He must learn that the world is watching and listening. The NT would also have my support and I know that we would qualify. I just dont think hes playing the best teams or formations..That last game we had our
chances we didnt take them. The columbia game was terrible..we are not playing like a team...he needs to quickly get a provisonal 30 man squad and start prepartions for the copa. Some would get injuries, lose form and others would recover and get in form..soo he can chop and change..we must have a settled 16 man squad by March 09. Look at spain and russia, they dont change players game in game out..look how they have gelled....thats what I want...I dont believe its a motivation issue. Winning the Copa is motivating in itself. We have some of the best players, who believe in Diego...Diego now must believe in the accomplishing the task ahead..Yes hes human, a special kind indeed..Forza Albiceleste!
Lets keep marching on to the copa!!!
BUENOS AIRES, June 19 (Reuters) - Argentina’s soccer chief Julio Grondona hinted strongly on Friday he was seeking the return of estranged playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme to Diego Maradona’s troubled national team.
“The other day, I went into a locksmith’s and I may have found the key to open the door,” Argentine Football Association president Grondona told Fox Sports cable TV in an interview.
Riquelme, a key member of the Argentina side that reached the 2006 World Cup quarter-finals, quit the team in March over remarks he perceived as critical of his playing style made by Maradona in the media.
He made his decision just days before Maradona, who took charge late last year, named his first squad for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers after Riquelme had missed friendly wins against Scotland and France.
Argentina, without Riquelme, have taken six points in four qualifiers under Maradona although his two defeats came at high altitude, in particular a 6-1 drubbing by Bolivia in La Paz in April.
They are fourth in the South American standings, the last of the automatic berths for the finals in South Africa, and next face leaders and arch-rivals Brazil at home in September.
Riquelme has often divided opinion among Argentine fans and media, many of whom say he slows the team down. Others admire his languid, passing style.
Grondona, who played big part in Riquelme’s return in 2007 from Villarreal to Boca Juniors, where he could play regularly in the build-up to the World Cup, said it was a mere spat with Maradona, predicting: “I’m sure things will soon get back to normal”.
(Editing by Dave Thompson. To query or comment on this story email
Gd news to me.
Looks like it may not happen for now!!!
Riquelme Reaffirms Decision To Quit Argentina
The Boca Juniors playmaker couldn't be more clear about the decision he already made...
24 Jun 2009 21:56:04
Juan Roman Riquelme - Argentina (Mexsport)Despite calls from the AFA chief for Juan Roman Riquelme to express his availability for the Argentine national team, the playmaker has reaffirmed that he has no intention of returning.
Riquelme told the press that he was "surprised" by the declarations made by AFA president Julio Grondona, who pleaded for the Boca Juniors superstar to ask to be called up again.
"Next year I will continue to play football, and I will be where my children want me to be. I can't predict the future and I don't know what will happen in one year's time," said Riquelme.
Obviously surprised by the declarations made by the AFA president, once again Riquelme reiterated that he "won't talk about the national team" and that there's no chance that he will return if Diego Maradona continues to be the coach of the side.
"I will always be grateful for what Julio has done, because he has done a lot for me to be here today, at Boca. He contributed and facilitated my return to Boca and my exit from Villarreal. I won't forget about that."
For now, at least, it seems that there is no chance that Riquelme will return to wearing the famous blue and white stripes of his national team
Anyone else heard the rumours about Maradona and Porthsmouth?
Any truth to them?
By Rex Gowar
BUENOS AIRES, July 24 (Reuters) - Diego Maradona, linked this week with Portsmouth’s new, rich Middle Eastern owner, said he would never hide anything from his Argentina team.
“In the national team I want people who are loyal to me…(and) The Mascheranos, Messis, Agueros will always have what’s best for them,” Maradona said on Friday.
“They’ll never find out about something from behind (their backs), the coach will always go to tell them things. All my life I’ve operated like that, face to face,” he told TyC Sports cable TV in an interview.
Javier Mascherano is Argentina’s captain, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero two of their leading strikers.
Maradona did not talk about a report in Arabian Business magazine quoting a lawyer, Angel Oscar Moyano, as saying the Argentina coach was prepared to give up his job with the national team to act as a “global ambassador” for Portsmouth, bringing top players to the English Premier league club.
He said the decision for Argentina to play Brazil at Rosario Central rather than River Plate in their World Cup qualifier on Sept. 5 was made by the players.
“The players won, they asked to play in Rosario,” Maradona said of the Argentine Football Association’s (AFA) decision to stage the match in Argentina’s second city where the Gigante de Arroyito ground is smaller than River Plate’s Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires.
“(Playing there) doesn’t guarantee anything but if… the River ground doesn’t give you the support that Rosario’s does, it’s a plus we can take advantage of,” Maradona said.
Maradona criticized River’s stadium, and in particular the turf, before and after their 1-0 win over Colombia in June but senior players felt a lack of atmosphere due to its size and an athletics track around the pitch.
FIFA have approved the Rosario Central ground provided the AFA make some refurbishments to the changing rooms and press and VIP stands.
Argentina have only lost one qualifier at home and that was at River Plate where they were humbled 5-0 by Colombia on Sept. 5, 1993.
They drew 0-0 with Brazil at Rosario Central on their way to winning their first World Cup in 1978. (Editing by Justin Palmer; to query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)