KOLKATA, India - Thousands of excited fans lined the road to give Diego Maradona an emotional welcome to Kolkata on Saturday. "I thought there were no more surprises left in life but my visit to Kolkata has changed that," Maradona told a news conference after arriving in the eastern city, India's soccer hub, for a two-day visit. "I didn't know people loved soccer so much in this part of the world," added Maradona through an interpreter, after organisers took his footprint for a soccer archive. Maradona inaugurated a private soccer academy on the outskirts of Kolkata after being flown there by helicopter due to tight security following last week's Mumbai attacks which killed more than 170 people. A crowd of around 100,000 was expected at an exhibition game in Maradona's honour at Kolkata's main stadium later on Saturday, to which leading Indian players past and present were invited. Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup triumph and took charge as national coach last month, told the news conference he was confident his team would shine in the 2010 finals in South Africa. "We have a great team which has all the quality to be successful in the next World Cup. Argentina can be one of the best four teams," he said. On Sunday, Maradona will visit the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity to pay homage to their founder, Nobel laureate Mother Teresa, who died in 1997.
6 December 2008
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