The demise of Argentina

sportsblog-gafferSports Blog’s Gaffers looks at the steady decline of Argentina.

The memories, the jinking runs of Maradona or Messi, a world cup
winning pedigree, the greats of the game.

This list could go on but the past is to be admired and the present
for the blue and white of Argentina paints a completely different picture. How
the Argentine fans long for yester year!

I recently took in arguably the biggest game in world football, the eagerly
anticipated game between Argentina versus Brazil and fought off sleep to stay up
until 2am and I must say I am glad I did, for all the wrong reasons.

Two teams, who I had witnessed during Italia ‘90 compete so closely in the
second round fixture in Turin (Argentina won 1-0), have grown apart
dramatically during the intervening years.

Brazil have become compact, defensively sound yet remain skillfully elegant
whilst Argentina are showing nothing but major cracks right across the pitch.

The blame surely has to lay at the feet of the football association in
Argentina but also at their choice of coach, none other than Diego Armando
Maradona. Whom despite been a great of the game is a untried coach,
especially at such a demanding and stressful level.

He took over in a blaze of publicity and during his first fixture against
Scotland in November 2008 the signs looked ominous. The team
looked disorganised, disinterested and low on confidence, yet Maradona was
loving the media attention focused purely on him.

His well documented health problems have recently surfaced again as Diego
has visited Italy to have an operation to help with his escalating waistline
whilst at the same time having the Italian authorities after him for a reported
$37 million tax fraud.

By the way he refuses to pay them and he would only give them his ear rings
worth a reported $5,000 due to a ruling allowing them to take anything in
visual sight of notable value.

Anyway I digress. Whilst this is happening Carlos Bilardo (former Argentina
legend and once national coach) has taken temporary charge of the upcoming
friendly international against Ghana including selecting the squad and team.

Bizarre! Would Fabio Capello do this? I think not!

El Diego will return in time for the crunch World Cup qualifying double
header in October against Peru and Uruguay respectively. The truth of the
situation is that they need to win both games to guarantee at least a play-off
place in the qualifying group.

Lose one or draw one and it could lead to one of the greatest team names in
world sport missing out on the upcoming World Cup in South Africa with the
games current greatest player, Lionel Messi, not entertaining on the stage we
want to see him perform on.

Why has this happened I hear you ask. Many reasons can contribute and it
could be coincidence that Maradona has purely taken over at a low point in
Argentine football and the quality of player chosen.

Though many factors can add to the argument that he is to blame. His
decisions to not select certain players is at the detriment of the team
including Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Roman Riquelme, with the latter omission
resulting in a fall out between Maradona and his beloved Boca Juniors
supporters.

His adamant approach to include players deemed to be beyond their best or
untested players for the big name games has left many a fan scratching their
heads in amazement.

Ill preparations have also been blamed, namely for the 6-1 reversal against
Bolivia, a match played at altitude without the preparations for such
conditions.

Finally it was reported the light-hearted Lionel Messi returned from the
recent international fixtures feeling depressed. This shows that all is not
well in the camp and I wonder when it will end.

I hope they do qualify. I hope Diego can transform the fortunes of this
ailing team. The question remains can he do it?

The signs aren’t good but it is said that a team shows its true colours when
their backs are against the walls, I hope we see the true genius of the blue
and whites in World Cup 2010.

Click here to read
more from Gaffers at his
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