Argen-tina coach Diego Maradona hit out at Brazilian legend Pele and UEFA president Michel Platini as the war of words between the former playing greats continued on Wednesday.
Maradona was speaking to the press at the Loftus Versfeld stadium here on the eve of the South Americans’ second World Cup Group B match against South Korea in Johannesburg on Thursday.
But it was Pele and Platini rather than the likes of Park Ji-Sung who seem to be concerning Maradona more.
A couple of days ago Pele was quoted in the Brazilian press as suggesting that Argentina’s appointment of Maradona was a mistake and that the former superstar only took the job because he needed the money.
‘I’m not surprised, Pele should go back to the museum,’ was Maradona’s retort before he also took a pop at former France star Platini, who a few months ago had insinuated that Maradona was a great player but not a great coach.
‘As for Platini, I’m not surprised because I always had a distant relationship with him, we would just say hi and goodbye.
‘But we know what the French are like and Platini is French, he believes he’s better than the rest of us.’
Maradona was asked about the lack of goals and excitement in this World Cup and once again he turned on both Pele and Platini, as well as the official Jabulani ball.
‘Well personally I’m having a wonderful time, the World Cup is something amazing and I’m not worried about the fact that there have been few goals,’ he said.
‘I’m sure we’ll have goals, the players will see to that. Of course in the first matches you’re more careful perhaps than you should be.
‘Teams study and analyse each other, that’s why there are fewer goals.
‘Another issue is the ball, although I don’t want to go into that because everyone is talking about it.
‘But it’s important and it does play a part and I’d ask Pele and Platini to go and play with it and take a look at the ball and stop talking about me.’
Looking forward to Thursday’s match, Maradona brushed aside the threat posed by the Koreans, despite their 2-0 win over Greece in their opener.
‘With all due respect, you dont have a (Lionel) Messi,’ he said in response to a Korean journalist’s question about who the Asian’s equivalent player would be.
‘South Korea are based on a very strong collective block, they’re very fast, they’re an excellent
Maradona did reveal, though, that he is worried about the physical challenge the Koreans may bring to the match, a slightly ironic concern for a coach whose first choice centre-back pairing are the muscular duo Walter Samuel and Nicolas Burdisso.
‘The referees have a lot to answer for if you want to see a match where the stars won’t be hampered,’ said Maradona, who voiced similar concerns before the opening match against Nigeria.
‘If Korea do something to Messi or (Carlos) Tevez they’ll have to get a yellow card and the second time they’ll be off.
‘We came here to see wonderful football and those who don’t want to see that can go home.
‘We’re here to see the likes of Messi and Kaka and that’s great, we don’t want the spectacle to be affected.
‘Referees have to be strict, they have to pull out the yellow card, we’ve got to be careful with this.
‘We don’t want it to be too rough, you don’t want to risk your life. You have to play a fair match, we don’t want to break any legs.’