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Maradona: Sorry Fabiano, only one `Hand of God` goal

Updated: Jun 21, 2010, 22:00 PM IST

Pretoria: Argentina coach Diego Maradona says that Brazilian star Luis Fabiano can score all the goals he wants off unwhistled handballs, but there is only one "Hand of God" goal.

The Argentine legend, who famously netted his controversial goal with a handball against England in a 1986 World Cup quarter-final, spoke here today ahead of his team`s final Group B match on Tuesday against Greece.

Maradona did not miss the chance to tweak rival Brazil and Fabiano, who admitted after yesterday`s 3-1 victory over Ivory Coast that his second goal was scored after the ball bounced off his hand and shoulder.

"Brazil is not playing well as it is," he said. "But Brazil can take it all, even if they have to use their arms."

After the ball went in off his hand in 1986 in what was eventually a 2-1 victory over England, Maradona`s landmark line was that the goal was "a little bit the head of Maradona and a little bit the hand of God."

When asked about Fabiano comparing his goal to Maradona`s win "Hand of God" feat, the hero of Argentina`s run to the 1986 World Cup crown said there is simply no comparison. No no, he had it on the arms. It`s quite obvious. Twice he hit the ball on his arm," Maradona said.

French referee Stephane Lannoy, however, made the bigger impression upon Maradona by laughing with Fabiano moments after missing the handball call.

"The tragi-comic thing was the referee`s smile after the goal," Maradona said. "I didn`t see the referee when I scored the goal against England.

"Yesterday the referee was laughing. What do you say to that, Brazil is not playing too well but Brazil manages to score when it is necessary."

Maradona also had a rough assessment for European sides, notably France after a rift between its coach and top players, pre-Cup favorite Spain after a first-match loss to Switzerland and Italy after the Azzurri settled for a 1-1 draw with New Zealand.

"I`m a bit disappointed with France," Maradona said. “France is not having the best of times. The intrinsic value of the players in France should get them on a higher level.

"Spain, I think they will do well. The way Spain started, they were coming to pick up the World Cup and we were all playing for second place. Italy, my God. It must be a huge
scandal in Italy when they see that. I think they are all going to make it (to the last 16)."

When it comes to South America`s World Cup dominance, an unbeaten run over the World Cup`s first 10 days, Maradona chalks it up to tough qualifying, the same path that his side struggled through last year.

"The qualifying round in South America is quite competitive," Maradona said. "Europe has tough qualifying but you can also end up playing the Faroe Islands. South America has teams that are fit for a World Cup."

PTI