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Maradona's squad "better than '86"

02/06/2010 07:24:01 AM Comments (0)

Diego Maradona says the current Argentine squad is in better shape than the 1986 team he led to the nation's last World Cup in Mexico.

"In '86 there were a lot of doubts about the side," he said. "The players we have now are at a much higher level than we were in '86, and they understand things better than we did."

Maradona said competition in training camp was intense.

"Every practice makes it more difficult for me," he said.

"But it's beautiful to have players giving their all."

Maradona remains uncertain about his starting 11 less than two weeks before Argentina's World Cup opener against Nigeria.

Chief among his challenges is trying to find places for all of his talented forwards: FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi of Barcelona, Carlos Tevez of Manchester City, Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid and Diego Milito of Inter Milan.

"It will be just a few days before the (opening) game that I'll know," Maradona said. "I have 23 fierce competitors that are willing to leave it all on the pitch."

Maradona seemed to have settled on four defenders - Nicolas Otamendi, Walter Samuel, Martin Demichelis and Gabriel Heinze - but he now seems undecided about whether to choose Otamendi or Jonas Gutierrez on the right.

Up front he has to find room for a half-dozen talented strikers.

In addition to the top four he also has Martin Palermo of Boca Juniors and Sergio Aguero of Atletico Madrid.

"We could not be better," said Javier Mascherano, the Liverpool midfielder and team captain.

"This is a great group. Everyone is looking for a chance. Everybody is really into it and there is no complaining."

In addition to the June 12 opener against Nigeria, Argentina also faces Greece and South Korea in Group B.

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