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Pirates sign Nyatama from Celtic

South African Premiership
By ESPN Staff

Maradona not concerned by absences

Diego Maradona believes he has plenty of options to replace the absent Juan Roman Riquelme and Lionel Messi on his debut as Argentina coach against Scotland in Glasgow on Wednesday.

Maradona, who was appointed as coach on November 4, is denied the services of the star duo as Riquelme's club side Boca Juniors are locked in a title fight in the Apertura tournament and came to an agreement with the Argentina Football Association, while Barcelona have negotiated that Messi will not play in friendly fixtures except under exceptional circumstances.

Maradona, however, is confident he has the personnel to cope without the pair.

The 48-year-old, who arrived in Glasgow at the weekend, said: "We must not stand there with our arms crossed just because we cannot count on Riquelme nor Messi. We must search for variety, options, and we have them.

"Even without them, we will play for victory against Scotland."

Maradona, who has endured a host of personal problems since retiring from playing, is reinvigorated by his appointment.

"I feel like I never left," he said. "I feel the same perfume, the same smell, the same need, the same motivation, the same commitment."

•  Meanwhile, former England defender Terry Butcher said he could not forgive Diego Maradona for his 'Hand of God' goal as the two old foes prepared to meet again 22 years after the infamous incident.

Butcher, now Scotland's assistant coach, still retains a burning sense of injustice over the goal that knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico.

"I'll never forgive him. It's not nice to lose a World Cup quarter-final under those circumstances, but that was 22 years ago and this isn't about that game," Butcher told Sky Sports.

"It is very interesting, very intriguing. But this is all about Scotland playing Argentina."

Butcher was among the array of bemused England defenders left trailing in Maradona's wake that day for the Argentine's second goal, widely regarded as one of the best ever scored.

But despite the bitter memory of Maradona's first goal in Argentina's 2-1 victory, Butcher thinks the south American nation have made a wise choice and that Maradona could have a similar impact to Jurgen Klinsmann when he was given the Germany job.

"He was the best player I've played against but, for me, Pele was the best I have seen," said Butcher.

"But to have somebody like Maradona coaching the national team, then that is fantastic for the Argentina players.

"Players do hold him in high regard and they will be keen to impress their new boss and their idol. It will probably work against Scotland on Wednesday.

"It is an excellent appointment for Argentina. It provides a focal point for the players, look at (Marco) Van Basten for Holland or (Jurgen) Klinsmann for Germany.

"I think it does galvanise you if you are being selected by the best player your country has ever produced."


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