Maradona revels in new-found respect
Argentina coach Diego Maradona is delighted that he is finally receiving the praise he believes he deserves after leading the country to four successive victories at the World Cup finals.
Maradona was heavily criticised towards the end of the qualifying campaign when it appeared there was the chance at Argentina would not make it to South Africa. That now seems a long time ago as Argentina played with confidence en route to a quarter-final showdown with Germany.
Maradona said: “I feel very proud to be part of this moment. Because as a manager before they said I am clueless and a c**k. But now after four games they say I’m great.
“The main difference as a manager now is I would like to put on the shirt and get on the pitch. But it’s beautiful to be among those players and that group. The win is always beautiful as a player and a manager. When you’re on the pitch you can run and say things that you can’t say from the bench.
“We will try to find the best team, the elite team to play Germany. But it will be the team that gives me guarantees to win the game.”
Argentina have so much talent on the bench, including Sergio Aguero, that Maradona has trouble juggling his team. He added: “But my relationship with the lads is excellent. The heavyweights that are left on the bench when they come on they do well out of respect for the group, the manager and the shirt.
“We didn’t come on holiday, we came to leave our skin here to make the Argentina people proud of us. We can manage them and help them and give them love. But what we are achieving is the effort of my 23. We are very proud of our 23 players and I think those four games belong to them.”
Meanwhile, Carlos Tevez admits he cannot bear to think of losing to Germany in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final.
Tevez told http://www.clarin.com: “Why not think I can be a champion? Every night, I do. I have a hunger for glory so great that I can not imagine the great sadness there would be without the cup. I could not bear to lose on Saturday.”
Tevez’s non-stop approach and skill have made him a crowd favourite, and he is desperate to deliver the biggest prize of all for the fans. He said: “It makes me really happy. It must be my way of playing. I give everything for every ball, and people identify with that. Hopefully, with all the boys, we can give them the joy we all hope for.”