MONTEVIDEO - Having seen Argentina through
to next year's World Cup finals coach Diego Maradona has eight
months to identify and correct the many mistakes of an
error-riddled qualifying campaign.
Juan Sebastian Veron was not afraid to speak his mind after
qualification was secured on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over
Uruguay at the Centenario.
"Everything (was done badly) from top to bottom... We must
change things to see a competitive Argentina, that we can enjoy,
not suffer," Veron told reporters.
"This is an important step but we mustn't sweep things under
the carpet. We must analyse things from the inside, from
(Argentine Football Association president Julio) Grondona to the
Whether Maradona sees and admits to the same errors that his
many critics have witnessed this year will keep the media he
despises and fans preoccupied during the run-up to South Africa
Maradona has appeared deaf to the criticism but there is
hope that he listens to an outstanding player like Veron, who
led Estudiantes to their fourth South American Libertadores Cup
title in July.
Argentina, playing conservatively, had one of their better
performances under Maradona on Wednesday if only for the
relative cohesion of the team with Veron busy in midfield and
Martin Demichelis strong at the back.
When Argentina were crushed 6-1 in Bolivia in April and 3-1
at home by Brazil in September, Maradona, an inexperienced
coach, appeared clueless and it was only the quality of the
players eking out wins against Colombia, Peru and Uruguay that
avoided greater embarrassments.
Surprising selections, more than 70 call-ups for 12
international matches including friendlies and relying on some
players on the brink of retirement to try to save Argentina's
skin with little apparent tactical work in practice pointed to a
lack of direction.
The emotional Maradona, under medication to keep his stress
levels in check, looked more than anything a player frustrated
at being unable to come onto the pitch himself to try to resolve
"It wasn't easy, it ended up as it started - complicated.
Qualifying... sometimes is easier, at times more difficult which
is how it went for us now," the 34-year-old Veron said.
"Now we have the necessary time for the coach to work to
find the team that will go to the World Cup," said Veron, who is
in line for a third finals having missed out in 2006.
Veron was part of Daniel Passarella's quarter-finalists in
France in 1998 and Marcelo Bielsa's side who in 2002, having
sailed through the qualifiers and arrived in Japan as
favourites, were dumped out in the group stage.
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