If I could pick between: seeing the Chicago Cubs win the World Series before I die or never seeing Argentina’s coach Diego Maradona naked, I would choose the latter. I think I would rather go to a Justin Bieber concert by myself than see that.
Earlier this month, Maradona claimed that he would go streaking through the streets of Buenos Aries if Argentina won the World Cup. Either the man is a free spirit or he is THAT convinced Argentina won’t win.
by Justin Mertes-Mistretta
As funny as it is for Maradona to make these ridiculous claims, I think it is a poor coaching decision. It sends the wrong message to the players. A coach is supposed to believe in his team, not make it seem unrealistic for them to do well. Maradona was a controversial player, most known for his “hand of God” goal during the 1986 World Cup. Watch here (look closely as you will see Maradona hitting the ball in with his hand.) Maradona has admitted to being a drug user during his playing days, most notably getting kicked out of the 1994 World Cup for using Ephedrine.
The past is the past, but his coaching career thus far is just as controversial. After Argentina’s qualifying match against Uruguay, Maradona was quoted as saying, “To those who didn’t believe it – excusing the ladies – suck it, go on, keep sucking it.” The man needs some help.
Diego Maradona has been criticized for the way he uses Lionel Messi. Argentina fans argue at times that Maradona doesn’t focus on Messi enough. One has to wonder if Maradona may feel threatened by Messi, as he is becoming one of the best players to ever play the game. After all, Messi’s nickname is “the new Maradona”.
Even with all the controversy with Maradona, Argentina would have to tie their feet together to not dominate this group. Lionel Messi is good enough to carry Argentina past the knockout stage but after that I see an early exit.
After Argentina, second place is up for grabs. None of the three teams are good enough to win it, but any of them can advance.
- Unlike some of the other African countries, such as South Africa, Nigeria is actually pretty talented. In past years, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have been known for their attacking style, but this Nigeria team is much more defensive-minded.
- Nigeria is led by one of the best African players of all-time, Nwankwo Kanu (I’d hate to be stuck with that on a spelling bee.) He has represented Nigeria for 16 years, winning the gold medal for his country in the 1996 Olympics. At the age of 33, he may only be a substitute, but when he is on the field he will make an impact, I can assure you that. The man has proven people wrong throughout his whole career, most notably overcoming heart problems to play at the top level again.
- Known for their gyros, Greece’s futbol team isn’t too shabby either. The strength of the Greeks is their stingy, stink-on-poo-like defense. They shocked Europe by winning the Euro Cup in 2004. They hope that success carries over six years later.
- The Greek team is very inexperienced, making only its second World Cup appearance EVER.
- The biggest weakness of this team is the fact that they have a hard time scoring goals. Not a very good weakness to have when the objective of the game is to score more goals than the other team.
- Theofanis Gekas is the player to watch for Greece. If the Greeks score, which is about as likely as the moon being visible on a sunny day, he will most likely be the one responsible.
- South Korea is the best soccer country in Asia, qualifying for their seventh straight World Cup. In the 2002 World Cup, South Korea surprised everyone by beating Italy. Within the past year, South Korea has defeated Japan, Australia and the Ivory Coast, all very strong opponents.
- The Taeguk Warriors of South Korea are led by Park Ji-Sung of Manchester United. He is like the Energizer Bunny, he never gets tired.
- The biggest question mark for South Korea is whether or not they can win away from home. Even though they have qualified for seven straight years, 2002 was the only year that they made it out of the knockout stage. The Cup was played in South Korea that year.
1 – Argentina (7 pts) – Maradona will find a way to screw things up for Argentina after the knockout stage.
2 – Nigeria (5 pts) – With the home crowd on their side, Nigeria will prove that they are one of the best African teams in the Cup.
3 – South Korea (2 pts) – Needing a win over Nigeria in their final game, they will only be able to muster up a tie. Another World Cup, another disappointment away from home in the knockout stage.
4 – Greece (1 pt) – They will fail to score a single goal, blaming their performance on the design of the soccer ball (read here).
Find more articles on the World Cup by Justin Mertes-Mistretta at https://www.percysperspective.com/Follow paulmbanks