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World Cup 2010: Argentina Coach Diego Maradona Demands Respect For Mexico Ahead Of Last 16 Clash

World Cup 2010: Argentina Coach Diego Maradona Demands Respect For Mexico Ahead Of Last 16 Clash

Former World Cup winner won't get carried away...

Argentina coach Diego Maradona has refused to get carried away with his team’s exciting World Cup 2010 performances and is demanding his players don't underestimate their next opponents Mexico.

The South Americans, along with the Netherlands, were the only sides to progress through the group stages with their 100 per cent records intact, having beaten Nigeria, South Korea and Greece in Group B.

They also topped the goal-scoring charts - with Portugal - having netted seven times and boast one of the best defensive records in the competition to date.

However, speaking ahead of their last 16 clash in Johannesburg on Sunday, Maradona played down his side’s expectations.

"I keep on saying the others are the favourites. We're here to fight," he told reporters.

"We're in good shape, although of course there's always a few small things to solve within the squad. It's not easy to go from being nobody in your country and then going on to win three matches and stay focused.

"People were saying we were a disaster, we were the worst team they've ever seen, and now they are saying we are an excellent team, that this team is great on the pitch.

"We have the same players as before, so you shouldn't believe what everyone says, just go on working the same way you have been working with the same ideas."

Before the tournament began, they were questions being raised about Maradona and Argentina, after they narrowly scraped through their qualifying campaign to be in South Africa.

However, back-to-back victories in their final two games against Peru and Uruguay earned them the final qualification place.

And now the former World Cup winner is keen to fight back against his teams critics, although he insists he holds no grudges.

"I'm grown up, I'm 50-years-old in October, I don't hold a grudge," he told a press conference in Pretoria.

"But what makes me angry is when the lack of respect towards the players and when people don't know how to apologise for that.

"There are many players today who are being considered Gods in Argentina, and others who have been slaughtered by the press, and we simply want that these same journalists apologise to these players. It's just a matter of being honest."

Maradona also looked ahead to Sunday’s vital match, stating he has faith in his side to secure a place in the quarter-finals.

"Mexico are a team who you need to respect, and we are going to do that. But they should also respect us and our history," he added.

"Mexico have a number of players who concern us. But we have our match to play, we have our players to field. We know the match is going to be tough but with the team we have and the players we have we can move forward.

"The present situation is great because we've fulfilled our duty to win the first matches and from here on we start building physically and mentally for the next step."

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