Maradona’s career as the Argentina national coach has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride from the time he took charge.
The team struggled through the qualification phase, and in the process, Maradona crossed swords with Argentine journalists. When the team eventually qualified, Maradona gave the scribes a juicy piece of his mind.
To be fair to the newsmen, Diego has invited attention with his unconventional style of coaching. As many as 88 players have turned out for the Argentina team in the 12 months leading up to the Cup. And had the team failed to qualify for the tournament, the scribes could have been expected to go for Maradona’s jugular, on that score alone.
Whatever else he may be called, Maradona is never boring. He goes through a complete range of emotions before your eyes, laughing one moment and losing his temper the next. One of the spectacles TV viewers must have looked forward to whenever Argentina played at this World cup, was the sight of Maradona emoting from the sidelines.
When Argentina had beaten Nigeria and were about to take on South Korea, Maradona decided to stake everything on his team winning the World Cup. With the conviction of a man who already had the World Cup securely locked in his cupboard, Maradona decided to settle scores with Pele and Platini who had questioned his coaching skills.
He said Pele belonged to a museum, and sought to reduce Platini’s credibility by drawing attention to the fact that he was a Frenchman, and by inference, a know-it-all.
At a news conference, he reiterated his faith in Messi, emphasising how far ahead of everyone else the Argentine star was. He also talked about the depth of his team, with many players awaiting their turns to shine. While conceding that South Korea was a good team, Maradona drew attention to the fact that they did not have a Messi.
This news conference happened in the distant past. After that day, much water has flowed, under the proverbial bridge, with Argentina getting past the South Korean hurdle, topping the group, and beating Mexico in the round of 16 match, to get to the quarter-final.
As it transpired, that was Argentina and Maradona’s last stop on the World Cup train. Germany, today, smashed the Argentine dream, with a brutal 4-0 win.
What goes round comes round. Who must go to the museum now, Pele might well ask Maradona…