Maradona's moans ahead of French examination

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Before Wednesday night's game in France, Diego, sporting greased back mullet and half of Sierra Leone's diamond deposits in his ears, relaxed on the Med.

He told Ole, Argentina's daily sports paper, the importance of the game against France - a team they could meet in the latter stages of the 2010 World Cup - with it being a good opportunity to test out the defence against an aggressive, attacking team.

Mascherano was singled out as a particular favourite. "He is the emblem of the team and that's why I made him captain."

Captain Mascherano gets Maradona's message across

He also explained that being the manager was much more difficult than he thought.

"I thought that when I got to the 'seleccion' they gave you everything. But I asked for an assistant and they didn't give it. They put us in a game in Cochabamba (Bolivia) at 8pm, and the plane leaves from Argentina at 8.30. This could wind me up, but it's the opposite.

"I chose to be here and I believe the kids need me and they need each other."

He also complained that Roman Riquelme couldn't be released to play in the side. Instead he will travel to Jujuy with his domestic team Boca Juniors – although a stomach bug may stop him playing anyway.

"I'm not going anywhere until I get my assistant"

Messi is, of course, central to his plans. "I'm a donkey," Maradona explained. "If I don't play Messi where he is best, I think the best position for Messi is where Barcelona are moving him, going to the right and going in diagonals. You have to give him the ball with the frequency that Leo wants and then leave him to play."

France is Argentina's first major test with a young team – no Riquelme and Veron injured – and now a certain amount of the surprise has fallen away, its time for Maradona to prove his worth.

I, for one, back the decision of appointing him. There isn't one person in Argentina (OK there might be one) who doesn't worship the guy, despite his flaws.

As for the players? Well if you were confronted by god, you'd play your best right?

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