Maradona brings X-factor to Group B

09:27, June 08, 2010      

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All eyes will be on Group B in South Africa thanks to the presence in the Argentina dugout of one Diego Armando Maradona.

The star of the 1986 World Cup and one of the greatest players ever, the colorful and controversial 49-year-old is sure to attract his fair share of headlines in his new guise as national coach.

Having endured a turbulent qualifying campaign, Maradona has overseen a marked improvement since his side snatched a berth at the finals in its last qualifying game against Uruguay.

The impressive nature of their 1-0 friendly win in Germany in March prompted critics to reassess their preconceptions about Argentina's chances of success, while in European Footballer of the Year Lionel Messi they boast the world's best player.

Their squad is also thick with guile and experience, despite the surprising omissions of Inter Milan pair Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso.

Argentina will face Greece, Nigeria and South Korea in the group phase and captain Javier Mascherano believes there will be no need to worry if the two-time champions don't click immediately.

"In the long run what really matters is not what the pundits say but how well you do during that month," said the Liverpool holding midfielder.

"Spain and Brazil look a cut above the rest because they've both won trophies in the past couple of years but experience tells me that the World Cup is won by the team that improves through the tournament, not necessarily the one which plays the best."

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