Maradona: I need more time to make mark

BERNE - Argentina coach Diego Maradona has not had time to leave his mark on his team, the former World Cup winner said on Monday.

"It's totally unfair to expect to see the Maradona style when I only get the guys together two days before each game," he told the website of football's governing body FIFA.

"You have to make the most of what you have, and do and undo things in three days flat. The players travel a long way and they need time to relax and stretch their legs.

"You can't do much work with them before a game and I can't give them double training sessions. They'd be destroyed if I did that."

Maradona has had seven games at the helm since taking over last October - three friendlies and four World Cup qualifiers - with five wins and two defeats.

Argentina are fourth in the South American World Cup qualifying group, two points ahead of fifth-placed Ecuador, with four games to play including Brazil at home and Paraguay and Uruguay away.

A fourth place finish would guarantee a spot in South Africa but fifth would mean a two-leg play off against a team from CONCACAF.


Maradona, who captained Argentina to World Cup victory in 1986, acknowledged his role was sometimes bureaucratic.

"You're always on the phone, trying to find out how the players are," the 48-year-old said.

"Every day I meet with the coaching staff to find out how (Lionel) Messi, (Sergio) Aguero, Maxi Rodriguez and everyone have been doing in training, to see if Jonas Gutierrez has been playing.

"It's more about logistics than actually watching them."

He would not discuss the possibility of Argentina missing out on the World Cup finals for the first time since 1970.

"I know for sure that the Brazil game will be the key to qualification. Then we're off to Paraguay, where we've also got a great chance of winning.

"God willing, I'll have them all together for 20 days before the World Cup and that's when we'll lay the ground work to give ourselves the best possible chance of becoming world champions.

"There's one thing Argentina need to make the most of and that's the fact we're much better in possession than anyone.

"Maybe Brazil have got what we have, but Italy and Germany don't. Perhaps Spain have had it lately too."

He added: "The World Cup wouldn't be the same without Argentina. It would be colourless."