Pretoria: Argentina coach Diego Maradona hit out at Brazilian legend Pele and UEFA president Michel Platini
as the war of words between the former playing greats
continued on Wednesday.
Maradona was speaking to the press at the Loftus Versfeld
stadium here on the eve of the South Americans` second World
Cup Group B match against South Korea in Johannesburg
But it was Pele and Platini rather than the likes of Park
Ji-Sung who seem to be concerning Maradona more.
A couple of days ago Pele was quoted in the Brazilian
press as suggesting that Argentina`s appointment of Maradona
was a mistake and that the former superstar only took the job
because he needed the money.
"I`m not surprised, Pele should go back to the museum,"
was Maradona`s retort before he also took a pop at former
France star Platini, who a few months ago had insinuated that
Maradona was a great player but not a great coach.”
"As for Platini, I`m not surprised because I always had a
distant relationship with him, we would just say hi and
"But we know what the French are like and Platini is
French, he believes he`s better than the rest of us."
Maradona was asked about the lack of goals and excitement
in this World Cup and once again he turned on both Pele and
Platini, as well as the official Jabulani ball.
"Well personally I`m having a wonderful time, the World
Cup is something amazing and I`m not worried about the fact
that there have been few goals," he said.
"I`m sure we`ll have goals, the players will see to that.
Of course in the first matches you`re more careful perhaps
than you should be.”
"Teams study and analyse each other, that`s why there are
"Another issue is the ball, although I don`t want to go
into that because everyone is talking about it.”
"But it`s important and it does play a part and I`d ask
Pele and Platini to go and play with it and take a look at the
ball and stop talking about me."
Looking forward to tomorrow`s match, Maradona brushed
aside the threat posed by the Koreans, despite their 2-0 win
over Greece in their opener.
"With all due respect, you dont have a (Lionel) Messi,"
he said in response to a Korean journalist`s question about
who the Asian`s equivalent player would be.
"South Korea are based on a very strong collective block,
they`re very fast, they`re an excellent team and should be
respected, but we are going to win the match."
Maradona did reveal, though, that he is worried about the
physical challenge the Koreans may bring to the match, a
slightly ironic concern for a coach whose first choice
centre-back pairing are the muscular duo Walter Samuel
and Nicolas Burdisso.
"The referees have a lot to answer for if you want to see
a match where the stars won`t be hampered," said Maradona, who
voiced similar concerns before the opening match against
"If Korea do something to Messi or (Carlos) Tevez they`ll
have to get a yellow card and the second time they`ll be off.”
"We came here to see wonderful football and those who
don`t want to see that can go home.”
"We`re here to see the likes of Messi and Kaka and that`s
great, we don`t want the spectacle to be affected.”
"Referees have to be strict, they have to pull out the
yellow card, we`ve got to be careful with this.”
"We don`t want it to be too rough, you don`t want to risk
your life. You have to play a fair match, we don`t want to
break any legs."
Maradona also revealed that he has left out veteran
midfielder Juan Sebastien Veron in favour of Maxi Rodriguez
for the match as he doesn`t want Veron to aggravate a calf
injury he is carrying.