CAPE TOWN - A broken Diego Maradona, his
demeanour far removed from the exuberance of his previous World
Cup news conferences, said Argentina's 4-0 thrashing by Germany
on Saturday was the hardest day of his life.
"Today, close to the 50 years I will be on October 30, this
is the hardest thing I've experienced," Maradona said.
"This was (like) a punch from Muhammad Ali. I have no
strength for anything.
"The day I quit playing football could (have been) similar
but this is much harder," Maradona said after Argentina's worst
defeat at the finals since a 6-1 rout by Czechoslovakia in 1958.
Maradona said he could not talk so soon about the future
after his team again failed to reach the last four. They have
not done so since 1990, the year he reliquished the World Cup in
the final in Italy having lifted it four years earlier as
"I'll have to think carefully about (the future)... I must
speak to my family, the players, there's a lot (to discuss),"
With a hint that the future was uncertain, he said: "This
wasn't the expected finale (for us), but whoever comes in must
carry on on this path which is the one Argentines like.
"I thanked (the players and coaching staff) for the job they
did, that's all. I didn't speak about the future," Maradona
said, having emerged from a gloomy changing room.
He said he had no doubts that his team had played as they
should have, despite often being given the run-around by a far
sharper and quicker German side.
"I could go tomorrow, but I want these kids to go on showing
the real Argentine football," he said.
"I have realised as coach and player that the football the
(Argentine) people like is this, searching permanently (for
goals), playing, rotating. I don't think Argentina have another
"With the (early) lead, Germany began to get ideas that they
had not had previously in this World Cup," Maradona said.
"This (loss) doesn't knock my pride in my players because I
know the result is not a reflection of what happened on the
pitch. They put in their chances, we also had some."
Maradona defended World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, who
was brilliant in flashes throughout the finals but failed to
stamp his authority on the tournament or even find the net.
"(Messi) had a great World Cup ... (he didn't score) because
the ball lifted or goalkeepers were their teams' stars.
"To see Messi weeping in the changing room, anyone who says
to me he has no feelings for the (Argentina) shirt is stupid."
Germany ended Argentina's run of 10 matches unbeaten at the
World Cup dating back to their 1-0 loss to England in Japan in
2002 and including the 1-1 draw with Germany in the 2006
quarter-final which they lost on penalties.
Maradona, who took charge in late 2008, has won 18 and lost
six of his matches as coach though the majority of the defeats
came in a disappointing qualifying campaign last year.
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