Maradona: Altitude is nothing to be sacred of

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina coach Diego Maradona told his players not to fear high altitude when they face Bolivia at 3,600 metres above sea level in their World Cup qualifier in April.

Maradona last year publicly supported the Bolivian federation after FIFA banned matches at more than 2,750 metres above sea level, a ruling which was later overturned.

At one stage, before he had been named Argentina coach, he played in a charity match in La Paz along with Bolivian President Evo Morales.

"We're working on the altitude matter," said Maradona during a news conference on Monday in which most questions were on the birth of his first grandson, Benjamin, last week.

"You have to face up to the altitude and not be afraid of it. If you fear it, then the doubts start."

Argentina host Venezuela in a World Cup qualifier on March 28, Maradona's first competitive match in charge, and visit Bolivia four days later.

Argentina have played and won two friendlies, away to Scotland and France, since Maradona's surprise appointment in October.

"The base of the team will be the one we have been using so far," said Maradona, who has left midfielder Esteban Cambiasso out of his team and been denied playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme because of club commitments.

"I'm proud of the players who have understood the message that the Argentina shirt comes above everything else."

Maradona's daughter Gianina gave birth to Benjamin, whose father is Argentina striker Sergio Aguero, in Madrid on Thursday.

"I felt an air of youth, it was a wonderful feeling," said the 48-year-old. "It's the greatest feeling you can have.

"He's 60 percent Maradona and 40 percent Aguero," added Maradona.