Maradona still weighing starting options
Diego Maradona says he's still uncertain about his starting 11 less than two weeks before Argentina's World Cup opener against Nigeria.
The Argentina coach held his first news conference in South Africa on Tuesday and said he would not know his first team until just days before the June 12 opener.
Among other things, Maradona is trying to find places for all of his talented forwards: FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi of Barcelona, Carlos Tevez of Manchester City, Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid and Diego Milito of Inter Milan.
"It will be just a few days before the [opening] game that I'll know," Maradona said in Pretoria. "I have 23 fierce competitors that are willing to leave it all on the pitch."
Maradona said this group was in better shape than the 1986 team he led to the World Cup title.
"In '86 there were a lot of doubt about the side," he said. "The players we have now are at a much higher level than we were in '86, and they understand things better than we did."
Maradona said competition in training camp was intense.
"Every practice makes it more difficult for me," he said. "But it's beautiful to have players giving their all."
Maradona seemed to have settled on four defenders (Nicolas Otamendi, Walter Samuel, Martin Demichelis and Gabriel Heinze) but he now seems undecided about whether to choose Otamendi or Jonas Gutierrez on the right side.
Up front he has to find room for a half-dozen talented strikers. In addition to the top four he also has Martin Palermo of Boca Juniors and Sergio Aguero of Atletico Madrid.
"We could not be better," said Javier Mascherano, the Liverpool midfielder and team captain. "This is a great group. Everyone is looking for a chance. Everybody is really into it and there is no complaining."
In addition to the June 12 opener against Nigeria, Argentina also faces Greece and South Korea in Group B.