Messi savours victory but not ball

PRETORIA - Lionel Messi got up feeling good on Sunday after Argentina's 1-0 win in their opening World Cup match had buried their qualifying nightmare but added his voice to the chorus of complaints over the Jabulani ball.

"I'm happy because things went well for me and the national team won. I had very bad moments in the team during the qualifiers, when things didn't work out for me. Getting up today was very nice and I enjoyed a relaxed day," Messi said.

"The ball is very complicated for the goalkeepers and for us (players). I hope we gradually get used to it because we have no choice," he added in a news conference at Argentina's University of Pretoria camp.

Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 in their Group B opener in Johannesburg on Saturday with a scintillating performance from Messi that buried doubts about his ability to play as well for them as for Barcelona.

"I played a bit deeper than I usually do to be closer to the midfielders...who gave me play and made me feel comfortable," Messi said.

The South American qualifiers were a nightmare at times for the little ace as Argentina struggled last year to reach the South Africa finals, but the mood is better in Pretoria, Messi said.

"(In South Africa) everything changed, the mentality of the squad and my mentality. The time we've spent here has been good, it helped us a lot and we took advantage of it," he said.

Messi created at least half a dozen goal chances for himself and team mates but a fine performance from goalkeeper Victor Enyeama denied Argentina all but defender Gabriel Heinze's sixth-minute headed winner.

Argentina face South Korea next at Soccer City outside Johannesburg on Thursday. The Koreans, who beat Greece 2-0 on Saturday, lead the group on goal difference from Argentina.

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