Football / World Cup USA '94: Maradona's record

DIEGO MARADONA will set a World Cup record when he takes the field for Argentina in their final first-round Group D game against Bulgaria in Dallas tonight.

The 33-year-old will be playing in his 22nd finals match, one more than Germany's Uwe Seeler and Poland's Wladislaw Zmuda. However, Maradona does not expect an easy ride against opponents who still have high hopes of a second- round place.

'Bulgaria look a useful side,' Maradona said. 'Nigeria beat them on the physical side of things. I don't think they were too much better. They have good players like Kostadinov and Stoichkov.' The Bugarians were beaten 3-0 by Nigeria in their opening match.

A draw would guarantee Bulgaria a place in the last 16. Argentina's coach, Alfio Basile, knows exactly what to expect in the Cotton Bowl. 'Bulgaria are going to play back - everyone behind the ball,' he said.

The three-man attacking line-up Bulgaria fielded in their desperate search for their first win in 18 World Cup matches against Greece is not required tonight. They will revert to a solid four-man midfield, with the forwards, Hristo Stoichkov and Emil Kostadinov, playing deep to stifle Argentina's build- ups. Nasko Sirakov, who added much-needed bite up front as Bulgaria beat Greece 4-0, is likely to make way for the return of Daniel Borimirov.

Basile will stick to his winning line-up, although he is expected to be forced to make one change if the defender Roberto Sensini fails to recover from a thigh injury. Hernan Diaz will take his place.

ARGENTINA (probable): Islas (Independiente); Diaz (River Plate), Ruggeri (San Lorenzo), Caceres (Real Zaragoza), Chamot (Foggia); Redondo (Real Madrid), Simeone (Seville), Balbo (Roma), Maradona (no club); Caniggia (Roma); Batistuta (Fiorentina).

BULGARIA (probable): Mikhailov (Mulhouse); Kremenliev (Levski Sofia), Ivanov (Neuchatel Xamax), Zvetanov, Hubchev; Yankov (all Levski Sofia), Balakov (Sporting Lisbon), Lechkov (Hamburg), Borimirov (Levski Sofia); Stoichkov (Barcelona), Kostadinov (Porto).

Referee: N Jouini (Tunisia).