Polokwane: Argentina could
become the first team at the World Cup to wrap up three
victories if it defeats Greece tomorrow -- though a draw would
be enough for the twice world champions to advance to the last
16 as Group B winners.
Coach Diego Maradona`s team has so far underlined its
status as one of the tournament`s biggest favorites, scoring
an aggregate 5-1 goal difference.
"We can all be happy," Maradona said. "Two games, two
wins - and the way we achieved them."
Greece might need a helping hand from Nigeria if it is to
advance - unless it earns an unlikely three-goal margin
victory over Argentina.
Greece could scape through on a smaller win or even a
draw, but it then depends on a still pointless Nigeria to get
a favourable result against South Korea at a simultaneous game
The 2004 European champions lost their opening game 2-0
to South Korea, then rallied to beat Nigeria 2-1 for their
first ever World Cup win, points and goals. They`re now hoping
to keep their momentum going.
"For sure, the team can do better and can show more on
the pitch," defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos said. "We will
be freer to play, because the game against Nigeria was like a
final ... We are very relaxed after the win, and in my opinion
this will help us a lot."
Forward Pantelis Kapetanos called all the Argentina
players "exceptional", but believed Greece has a chance of
"It`s also up to us. If we play well, we can make it,"
Kapetanos said. "If we stay concentrated for the entire 90
minutes, I believe the match can be won."
Kapetanos acknowlegded the depth of the Argentina squad,
saying "they have 22 fantastic players and (Lionel) Messi, who
is one step higher in quality - the best player in the
Greece was expected to rely on its well-known defensive
tactics to stop the opponent`s dazzling attack featuring
Messi, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain, who had a hattrick in
Argentina`s 4-1 demolition of South Korea on Thursday.
Coach Otto Rehhagel will have defender Vasilis Torosidis
and captain Giorgos Karagounis at his disposal as both players
resumed normal training yesterday after suffering knocks in
the Nigeria game.
However, defender Avraam Papadopoulos skipped yesterday`s
practice session and trained on the sidelines as a precaution.
Argentina isn`t completely free of injury troubles either
as defender Walter Samuel is doubtful after picking up a thigh
injury and being replaced after 22 minutes into the South
"Luckily it`s not a muscle tear so that`s good and I hope
to return as soon as possible," Samuel said. "I`d like to be
ready for the next match, but there is no deadline."
Midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron was kept sidelined in the
same game after suffering a right-calf injury during the
team`s 1-0 win over Nigeria.
Jonas Gutierrez - a midfielder who is used by Maradona as
a right wing defender - is certain to miss the Greece match
after being shown yellow cards in each of the first two games.
Maradona faces no problems up front. Higuain was mainly
invisible in Argentina`s opener but ended speculation about a
possible replacement by Inter Milan striker Diego Milito as he
hit the target three times against South Korea.
Tomorrow`s game will be a rematch of their encounter at
the 1994 World Cup in the United States, when Maradona scored
to help Argentina beat Greece 4-0. It was Maradona`s 34th and
last goal for the national team.
Another victory over Greece at Polokwane`s Peter Mokaba
Stadium will see Argentina taking its next step toward
claiming its first international title since winning the Copa
America in 1993.