Maradona calls for Canada match cancellation

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina must not play a planned World Cup warm-up at home against Canada to rest the players before they head to the South Africa finals, coach Diego Maradona said on Thursday.

Maradona is against the May 24 friendly at the River Plate stadium, arranged for fans to send the team off to the World Cup, because his squad will have only just assembled at the end of a taxing season.

He said he would prefer his team to prepare for the June 11-July 11 finals in Frankfurt and play a friendly in Europe later in May before settling into their World Cup base in Pretoria.

"I don't want to play against Canada," Maradona told the TyC Sports cable television channel.

"The (league) championships finish very late and the players will arrive having played a lot of matches. We want to give them four or five days off and then get right into our preparations.

"We're looking at prioritising our preparations over playing," said Maradona, who added he had told the Argentine Football Association's (AFA) sporting director Carlos Bilardo of his plans.

Local media reported the AFA had already signed a deal for the Canada friendly.

Twice world champions Argentina, who meet Nigeria, Greece and South Korea in Group B at the World Cup, play Germany in a friendly in Munich next Wednesday.