Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPASTIMES -

AR­GENTINA won two edi­tions of the World Cup, but the most re­cent was in 1986 and they ap­proach South Africa 2010 from a plat­form of re­cent d i s a p p o i n t ment s and poor re­sults.

Coach Diego Maradona and su­per­star Lionel Messi (left) have been un­able to lead the side con­fi­dently off and on the pitch, and Ar­gentina only se­cured a place in South Africa in the last game of the qual­i­fiers.

By that time, fans in the foot­ball- crazy coun­try were grow­ing rest­less. They want to see their team re­claim global glory, but re­cent play – and the re­sults of the last few World Cups – pro­vide am­ple ev­i­dence that that will not be easy.

In the qual­i­fiers Maradona has fielded scores of play­ers without find­ing an ideal team, or even so much as a re­li­able side. Striker Messi – ar­guably the best player in the world – has been a shadow of the player who last sea­son led Barcelona to an his­toric tre­ble.

Other world-class stars, like Car­los Tevez or Ser­gio Aguero, have also been un­con­vinc­ing while keeper Ser­gio Romero has only been in goal for a cou­ple of games.

Ar­gentina head for South Africa as a most hes­i­tant team, one that only qual­i­fied fourth in the South Amer­i­can re­gion and only es­caped the play­offs in the last round.

Against that back­drop, it may be a good thing that ex­pec­ta­tions are not very high ahead of the trip to South Africa.

Hav­ing said that, how­ever, ri­vals in the World Cup would be ill-ad­vised to con­sider Ar­gentina any­thing less than a sleep­ing gi­ant.

The Star: Lionel Messi is ar­guably the best player in the world, and he is re­garded as the main can­di­date to win the Bal­lon d'Or and the FIFA Player of the Year award in 2009. But for all his record-break­ing prow­ess at the club-level he has con­sis­tently dis­ap­pointed Ar­gen­tine fans.

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