World Cup Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, June 12, 2010
(All times Eastern)
Argentina (0-0-0) vs. Nigeria (0-0-0), 10 a.m.
Johannesburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - Diego Maradona has played in
many World Cup games for Argentina, but when the team opens its World Cup
campaign against Nigeria in Group B play at Ellis Park Stadium on Saturday,
the legendary striker will be in a different role.
Maradona will be in charge of an Argentina side that is the favorite to win
the group and also one of a handful of teams that looks to be a real threat
to win the tournament.
In Lionel Messi the boss has a player who reminds him of himself, a dynamic
talent who is capable of taking over a game single-handedly.
But the 22-year-old Messi will have plenty of help in attack with other gifted
scorers in Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Diego Milito and Carlos Tevez.
In Nigeria, Maradona will get a good chance to see how his team stacks up
against a quality defensive side that includes Joseph Yobo and Taye Taiwo.
One player who the Super Eagles will be sure to miss is midfielder John Obi
Mikel, who was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury and was replaced
by the uncapped Brown Ideye.
Mikel provided good cover for the back line in his defensive midfield role,
but his absence might put a bit more pressure on an attack led by Obafemi
Martins and Ayegbeni Yakubu.
Nigeria struggled to score goals in qualifying and if they continue to have
problems in front of the net it could mean an early exit for a team picked by
many to finish second in the group.
Argentina had its own trouble in qualifying, but they can take a big step
toward winning the group with a victory over Nigeria, which could be the
toughest game in the group stage for Maradona's team.
The Argentina boss was questioned after leaving the duo of Javier Zanetti and
Esteban Cambiasso off his team after both played big parts in Inter Milan's
treble-winning season, but those questions will quickly disappear once the
06/11 15:31:52 ET