World Cup draw

Ardiles: Maradona will be "pretty happy"

December 4, 2009
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Ossie Ardiles has told ESPN Soccernet that Argentina coach Diego Maradona will be "pretty happy" with the World Cup draw that has pitted his side against Nigeria, South Korea and Greece.

• See the World Cup draw in full
• Complete World Cup fixture list
• World Cup draw: Soccernet says

Diego Maradona
GettyImagesDiego Maradona only just secured automatic qualification

The World Cup draw took place in Cape Town on Friday evening and Argentina, who struggled during qualification, were handed a favourable draw in Group B.

Maradona was not present at the draw as he is currently banned from football as a result of his expletive-filled rant following the game that secured Argentina's qualification - a 1-0 win over Uruguay on October 14.

Ardiles, who represented his country at both the 1978 and 1982 finals, was pleased to see Argentina avoid the unseeded France or Portugal, but admits it is difficult to predict how Maradona's side will perform.

"It's not the worst draw, not the best either, so it won't be easy," Ardiles told ESPN Soccernet. "The biggest problem is knowing which Argentina team will turn up at this tournament; the one the rest of the world would fear, or the one that struggled through the qualifying tournament.

"How will Diego Maradona cope in the finals? Well, who knows? With Diego, anything can happen, anything is possible.

"I would think he would be pretty happy with this draw. The main thing Diego will be thinking was that he needed to avoid the big boys in Europe - the two teams who would have caused problems, Portugal and France - and he has avoided both. Portugal and France will make it tough for anyone to emerge from the group stages.

"I remember watching Argentina's opening match of the World Cup in Italia '90 and Cameroon beat us. Now that was a shock. At that time, the African nations were not given much hope in the finals, and Roger Milla really did shock the entire world when Cameroon beat Argentina.

"I cannot think it would be such a shock now if Nigeria beat Argentina in the opening game, as everyone thinks the African countries will do well, and Nigeria are strong, and will feel at home here in Africa."