Tenacious Tevez embodies Argentine spirit

PRETORIA - Carlos Tevez, Argentina's man of the people, has embodied the determination of his country to win a third World Cup.

"I want the Cup and let no one take it from me," said Tevez, who enjoys a popularity with Argentina's fans akin to that of coach Diego Maradona.

The commitment of the player who, like Maradona rose from a tough Buenos Aires shanty town, shone through with his two-goal performance in the 3-1 second round win over Mexico four days ago.

But Tevez, known by those closest to him as Carlitos, was not sure of his place in Maradona's side until the final build-up to the tournament.

He is the first to recognise he had a poor qualifying campaign in which he was sent off twice and missed a penalty away to Ecuador.

Tevez worked hard to regain Maradona's confidence and was rewarded when the coach came to the conclusion he could not leave him out.

"It's tough to leave Carlitos out," Maradona had said in Buenos Aires before Argentina left for South Africa.

TEVEZ BERTH

A tactical switch freed up a place in attack and Tevez has slotted into a trident with Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain.

"Diego came to my room one day and told me 'I know you're going to be brilliant'", Tevez told the Argentina Sports daily Ole.

World Player of the Year Messi has yet to get off the mark but Higuain and Tevez have contributed six of Argentina's 10 goals.

"We have players up front who can tip the balance at any time. At a World Cup that's a very important virtue," Tevez said.

Tevez said he prepared for the World Cup from his first match for Manchester City back at the beginning of last season in the Premier League.

Now Argentina face Germany in the quarter-finals for the second successive tournament, having lost a shootout in 2006.

"I suffered because of our elimination in that match. We had it won and we lost on penalties," said Tevez, who played from the start in the Berlin quarter-final.

"Every night I go to bed dreaming of being world champion."

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