Maradona admits World Cup will get tougher

Argentina coach Diego Maradona admitted his side will face greater tests after their 2-0 victory over Greece at the Peter Mokaba Stadium made it three wins in succession in Group B.

Defender Martin Demichelis and substitute Martin Palermo scored the goals in the last 13 minutes after finally breaking through a determined Greek rearguard action.



Bayern Munich centre-back Demichelis fired home from close range in the 77th minute after his header from Lionel Messi's corner bounced back off team-mate Diego Milito.



Boca Juniors striker Palermo tapped in the rebound from Messi's shot to complete the victory a minute from time.



"Now the road gets more difficult," said Maradona.



"You always hear about Germany, Italy, Brazil playing poorly, but they're always in the second round, quarters, semi-finals and the final."



With his side virtually qualified even before they played their final match Maradona made seven changes but insisted on playing Messi and in the process he made the Barcelona forward Argentina's youngest captain two days short of his 23rd birthday.



"It was a unique experience - something very special," said Messi.



"As soon as I knew about it it was just great, unique."



Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Palermo - the least heralded of Argentina's much-celebrated strikeforce - was delighted to have repaid Maradona's faith with a goal.



"This is priceless," said the Boca Juniors forward, who is behind Gonzalo Higuain, Diego Milito, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero in the forwards pecking order. "I will always be grateful to Diego Maradona and to the staff for their confidence in me, knowing there are others ahead of me.



"My team-mates celebrated with me as if they had scored themselves."



Maradona also rounded on his critics, who were many when Argentina stumbled through qualifying and made it only with two wins in their last two matches.



"They (the critics) should apologise to the players, who are 100% professional," said the World Cup winner.



"We are doing our duty, which is to defend the Argentina shirt. Sometimes they are wrong, but those who have also criticised are wrong and should apologise."



The coach was also unimpressed by some strong-arm tactics in trying to keep Messi quiet, which Greece achieved until the last 10 minutes of the game.



"Where is the famous fair play? If every time Lionel Messi gets the ball he is thrown to the ground, what are we talking about?" he added.



"They should get a yellow card to stop it, because that is in the rules."



Greece coach Otto Rehhagel admitted his side were second-best.



"It was a well-deserved victory, no doubt about that," said the 71-year-old German, whose side lost out on second place after South Korea drew with Nigeria.



"We wanted to avoid an early goal, we managed to do that, but of course Argentina has more class and that earned them the win."



"My players played with their hearts and with excitement



"But it was just not enough to cause Argentina much trouble."



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits