Maradona brings X-factor to Group B (2)

09:29, June 08, 2010      

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Maradona, meanwhile, is confident that his team can go all the way.

"I tell my players that 30 days of sacrifice for the chance to kiss the World Cup is nothing in the life of a man," he said. "An achievement like that is like touching the sky. I played in World Cups and I reached two finals. I know what it takes."

Argentina qualified despite a humiliating 6-1 loss at altitude in Bolivia and a first ever home qualifying defeat to Brazil, but underwhelming pretournament form is something of a feature in Group B.

South Korea, semifinalists on home soil in 2002, overcame a sluggish start under new coach Huh Jung-Moo but eventually qualified with two games to spare to reach their eighth finals - an Asian record.

"We were drawn in the so-called Group of Death in Asian qualifying and we made it through," said Huh. "We believe we can do the job again in South Africa."

Nigeria are not the force that captivated the world at the 1998 tournament, when players like Jay-Jay Okocha and Sunday Oliseh illuminated their participation, but in Everton's Joseph Yobo, Chelsea's John Mikel Obi and Wolfsburg's Obafemi Martins they possess a steely spine.

Greece edged Ukraine by a single goal in their qualifying playoff after finishing behind Switzerland in European qualifying Group 2. Otto Rehhagel, the man who masterminded their stunning Euro 2004 success, remains at the helm and can call upon seasoned veterans from the Euro adventure as well as 10-goal European qualifying zone top scorer Theofanis Gekas.

Source:China Daily
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