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Maradona needs to look for an alternative

June 08, 2009 09:59 IST

Argentina coach Diego Maradona will have to go back to the drawing board after his team's rudderless performance in their 1-0 win over Colombia.

The three points and the standings in the South America group, where Argentina are safely in the direct qualifying places for South Africa with five matches to play, were the only good news for Maradona after Saturday's game.

Argentina should comfortably qualify for the World Cup but will have to improve enormously if they are to challenge for the title or have any hope of beating arch-rivals Brazil at home in September.

Argentine critics agree that Maradona's three-pronged attack of diminutive strikers, Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez is not working and that he needs to look for an alternative.

The midfield on Saturday was a dreadful mess and there was almost none of the refined passing game which has characterised Argentina in the last few years.

Almost unbelievably, they depended instead on long balls hoofed forward from defence.

Fernando Gago was substituted at halftime after struggling to adapt his new role on the right flank, where he contributed to one of Colombia's best chances after losing possession to Vladimir Marin.

Maradona, who complained bitterly about the pitch at River Plate's Monumental stadium, later took responsibility, admitting that he had been wrong to field the Real Madrid player out of position.

"At the moment, Maradona seems more concerned about the state of the pitch at the River Plate stadium than in giving an identity to his team," wrote Miguel Angel Bertolotto in the daily Clarin.

"The intention of keeping faith with the three quickies doesn't make sense if each one wants to play his own game and there are almost no interchanges between them."

Argentina barely created a scoring chance, their winner coming when defender Daniel Diaz scored from a corner early in the second half.

Diaz's strike helped cover up his own uncertain performance at the other end of the field.

"Maradona built the team from the front backwards and, in wanting to bring together attacking players, undid the organisation of the team," said Marcelo Sottile in the sports daily Ole.

"He destroyed its balance. The idea of playing with three in attack has to be killed stone dead."

The brightest spot was the performance of debutant goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, whose first-half performance spared Argentina the prospect of a home defeat.

Argentina, beaten 6-1 by Bolivia 3,600 metres above sea level in April, face another high altitude test when they visit Ecuador on Wednesday. They host Brazil in September.

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