Maradona rage at Monumental rock concert

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina coach Diego Maradona criticised the pitch for Saturday's World Cup qualifier at home to Colombia on Thursday, describing it as disastrous and comparing it to a piece of waste ground.

Maradona was livid after the pitch at the Monumental stadium, the home ground of River Plate, was used for a rock concert last Saturday. Around 40,000 people watched the show by veteran Argentine rock group Los Piojos (The Lice).

"It's disastrous," Maradona told reporters. "I hoped we could look for another stadium but I was told that River is the only one approved by FIFA."

"I'm not bothered about River wanting to earn money but I think they should be able to organise the dates properly," he said.

"We've brought over (Lionel) Messi, (Sergio) Aguero, (Javier) Mascherano, (Fernando) Gago and we're asking players who cost millions of euros to play on a piece of waste ground.

"I'm not interested in the finances of River but it's horrible. Regrettably we have to play there."

Argentina, beaten 6-1 at high altitude in Bolivia in their last game, need a win on Saturday to improve their position in the 10-team South American qualifying group and restore morale.

Maradona's side are fourth with 19 points from 12 games, the lowest position in which they could finish and qualify directly.

Fifth place would mean a two-leg play off against the fourth team from CONCACAF.

Lionel Messi agreed that the pitch would be a hindrance to his team, who will have to break down a stingy Colombian defence which has conceded 10 goals in 12 qualifiers.

"It's a problem for us," he said. "We try to play on the ground and quickly. If the pitch isn't good, then it won't be a help."