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Archives for October 2008

Is it Maradona's time?

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Tim Vickery | 08:21 UK time, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Diego Maradona will be 48 on Thursday. There were times when it seemed that he wouldn't get that far, with his well publicised struggles with illegal drugs and weight.

Now he is well on course for a happy birthday. He looks set to be announced as coach of Argentina, the job he has campaigned hard for since Alfio Basile stepped down two weeks ago.

On Monday the line from the Argentine FA was that Maradona was one of four candidates, there was no rush to appoint and all four would be spoken to.

Instead Maradona touched down in Buenos Aires on Tuesday morning, met with AFA president Julio Grondona in the afternoon and emerged to announce that although talks would continue, the job was his for the taking...

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Gremio lead the pack in quest for Brazilian title

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Tim Vickery | 09:45 UK time, Monday, 27 October 2008

Luiz Felipe Scolari has just suffered his first defeat as Chelsea manager with the English season still at a relatively early stage.

Back home in Brazil we are in the home straight and Gremio, the club where Scolari made his name, are optimistic of winning the title for the first time since 1996 - when Felipao (yet to be baptised 'Big Phil') was at the helm.

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Basile exit sparks change of direction for Argentina

Tim Vickery | 10:32 UK time, Saturday, 18 October 2008

Lionel Messi was hardly overcome with regret when he arrived back in Barcelona to be informed that Alfio Basile had resigned as coach of his national team..

"Argentina haven't played well for a while, and the results haven't been good," he said. "We needed a change."

But the change he is advocating would seem to be one of style of command rather than ideas or playing personnel. Messi was enthusiastic in his support of 1986 World Cup-winning midfielder Sergio Batista stepping up from the youth sides to replace Basile.

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The boy from Bolivia shows Colombia the way

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Tim Vickery | 10:35 UK time, Monday, 13 October 2008

At the halfway stage in South America's World Cup qualifiers the top scorer is Joaquin Botero of Bolivia.

He had plenty to celebrate on Saturday - he scored twice to help his side to a 3-0 win over Peru and in the process became Bolivia's all-time leading marksman and the first man on the continent to score five goals in the current campaign.

This last achievement is all the more remarkable given that Botero was not even selected for the first few matches. But in three starts plus 25 minutes off the bench he has one more goal to his name than the entire Colombia team have managed in nine games.

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Riquelme - one of a dying breed

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Tim Vickery | 08:29 UK time, Monday, 6 October 2008

After last month's World Cup qualifiers left Argentina without a win in five games, I wrote a piece about their problems.

It focused on the team's deficiencies in both penalty areas - and for this reason I made a point of not even mentioning key midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme.

It was no surprise to me, however, when the comments section was full of references to him, many of them hostile.

Riquelme divides opinions, and with the qualification campaign resuming this weekend, the debate will rage once more. But it is much more than a discussion about a player; it deals with the very nature of the contemporary game.

So much of modern football is a desire for 'bigger, faster, stronger' and with the emphasis now on ever greater athleticism, is there still room for an old fashioned foot-on-the-ball playmaker who moves with the ungainly gait of someone wading through water?

Many, even in Argentina, would now say no. They would argue that Riquelme is a throwback to the 1940s, an expensive luxury always likely to be crowded, hustled and cancelled out in today's packed midfields.

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