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By ESPN Staff

Pekerman lauds Crespo, thanks Maradona

HAMBURG, June 10 (Reuters) - Coach Jose Pekerman picked out striker Hernan Crespo for special praise after Argentina launched their World Cup challenge with a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast on Saturday.

'Hernan played a great game,' Pekerman told reporters. 'I'm very happy for him he scored his first goal here and I hope he'll score more.

'Argentina did very well and worked hard for the victory, for that I am very happy. Congratulations go to all the players.

'It's good to see we are on the right track and the team can play like that. '

Pekerman also had kind words for the fans and for former captain Diego Maradona, who was watching from the stands.

'We're always thinking of them (the fans),' he said, 'and I'd like to say thanks to Diego Maradona.

'He has provided us with words of support.'

Captain Juan Pablo Sorin was particularly pleased with the attitude of the team.

'I liked our attitude, always looking for good results but quiet,' said the defender. 'A good attitude.

'The first match was a key one.'

Crespo agreed, saying: 'A start like this is very good'.

Ivory Coast coach Henri Michel said his side paid the price for two errors.

'We lost because we made mistakes on the two goals,' he said. 'At this level, you really pay for little mistakes.

'Argentina have 23 great players. They have very high quality players.

'They could control things. We couldn't do that.'

But the Frenchman urged his team to stay positive, saying: 'The players are disappointed but we should not focus on the negative.

'We should try to look at this match and analyse things and continue to work with confidence so our goalscoring gets better.

'Now we have to work on our strengths and hope we can do better against Netherlands (on Friday).'

Argentina play their next game the same day, against Group C rivals Serbia & Montenegro.