Maradona says Argentina too forgiving in 1st match

Diego Maradona chided his Argentina players for wasting too many chances in their opening win against Nigeria at the World Cup, saying they need to score more goals in future games.

Last Updated: Jun 13, 2010, 17:20 PM IST

Johannesburg: Diego Maradona chided his
Argentina players for wasting too many chances in their
opening win against Nigeria at the World Cup, saying they need
to score more goals in future games.

Maradona said it seemed like his players "couldn`t see
the goal" and were too forgiving as they squandered numerous
scoring opportunities in their 1-0 victory yesterday.

"We should not forgive, that`s what I told them after the
match," a relaxed Maradona said. "In football, to forgive is
to pay."

Maradona also praised Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama,
who made spectacular saves against Lionel Messi and Gonzalo
Higuain to keep the Africans in the game.

"Today we took a very important step but we have to
improve many things to reach the seventh match," Maradona said
in reference to the tournament final. "Still, the boys did
well."

Making his World Cup coaching debut, Maradona said
everything would be fine if the missed opportunities meant
Argentina was saving some goals for Thursday`s encounter with
South Korea.

"Goals aren`t missed on purpose," Maradona said. "Winning
has given us a certain calm for the next match."

Before the game, Maradona seemed not to have a care in
the world.

As Ellis Park was filling up with thousands of Argentine
fans, he walked around the edge of the pitch calling out to
apparent acquaintances in the stands, listened to the crowd
serenading their hero and allowed himself to be followed
around by dozens of photographers taking pictures of him
dressed in warmups.

During the game, after putting on a suit and tie before
sitting on the Argentina bench, Maradona did not seem all that
different from other coaches, trying to make his players move
into position and giving instructions to substitutes about to
enter the game.

But his reaction to the final whistle from German referee
Wolfgang Stark was telling - Maradona began hugging and
patting the backs of his assistants, the substitutes on the
bench and the players coming off the field as if Argentina had
just won the final, not the first game of the group phase.

Maradona was especially outgoing with Messi, giving him a
bear hug and lifting him off the ground in celebration.

"I want Messi always close to the ball and he was,"
Maradona said. "He did terrific things today."

Bureau Report