Seeing is believing, and half the population of Planet Earth were waiting to see Diego Maradona as head coach of the Argentinean National Team to believe he can lead the Albicelestes to glory again; this time around without touching the ball miraculously.
Diego Maradona opened his account at the World Cup 2010 as the national team’s head coach and managed to grab a 1-0 win over a resilient Nigerian side.
Pundits and football fans alike are still in doubt that Maradona can replicate his achievements as a player when he is not in control of the ball. The win over Nigeria is deemed by many as a lucky result especially when we looking closely at the shaky defense line that didn’t live up to the occasion.
Yet, I see great outcomes from the 1-0 win. Away from the fact that the win earned the South Americans the necessary three points to gain confidence, a bigger win would have taken them with over confidence into the next game. The one goal narrow win will keep them levelheaded when they meet a fast and organized South Korean team that showed discipline and seriousness.
Another good outcome from the game is the performance of Messi who has been criticized heavily for not being able to reproduce his stunning club form on the national level. However, Messi was majestic on the ball and performed his most favorite trick three times, which would have seen him end the match scoring a brace if it weren’t for the unbelievable saves by the Nigerian goalkeeper Enyeama. I personally haven’t seen Messi cutting from the right flank towards the edge of the box and attempting his swerving shot except with Barcelona; a feat he repeated successfully many times especially in the 08/09 season. Moreover, and at the time when di Maria was not able to get hold of the ball on the left side of the park, Messi was spotted on that side slicing through the defenses and assisting his helpless fellow wingman.
A last observation will be about the behavior of Maradona, the coach, during the match and at the final whistle. Maradona had a lengthy conversation with his “on-the-field-coach” Veron during the first half and it was sort of the type of conversation that you would only see during trainings. Maradona was not giving Veron instructions he was consulting him, and this means a lot of trust from Diego towards his players. And at the end of the match, Maradona was smiling, for a change, and he held Messi high into the air because he knew that Messi showed heart and determination when most people thought he forgot them in Spain, more specifically Barcelona.
It is too early to judge if Maradona will be successful throughout the whole tournament, but Maradona showed he is determined to bring the Cup back to Argentina the same way he did in 1986, and attempted in 1990.