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."



Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones