A World Cup Finals Without Argentina?

Now is not a particularly good time to be an Argentinian football supporter. Not only have their most loathed opposition – Brazil and England – already qualified for the finals of the 2010 World Cup, but there is a serious likelihood  that the Albiceleste themselves might not even qualify for next year’s tournament in South Africa, and coach Diego Maradona is receiving hitherto unprecedented criticism in his home country. Argentina haven’t failed to qualify for the World Cup finals since 1970, but with just two matches left to play they sit in fifth place in the CONMEBOL group (a position that would see them play off over two legs against the fourth placed North American team), and there aren’t even any guarantees that they will hold onto that lofty a position. Eyebrows raised by the Argentinian Football Association’s decision to give the coach’s position to Diego Maradona were tempered by his status in the country. Maradona’s lengendary status has risen to the extent that he has become a one man cult in himself, and it seems likely that some have allowed his former abilities as a player to cloud their view of his status as a manager. What we know for certain is that his spell as the coach of the Argentina national side will be remembered as possibly the most disastrous in the recent history of the game...

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