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01 March 2024

Coaches seek to iron out troubles with friendlies

Diego Maradona (SUPPLIED)

By Reuters

Diego Maradona needs to start cutting numbers hard ahead of naming Argentina's eventual World Cup squad and Wednesday's friendly with Germany in Munich may offer him some pointers.

Maradona has fielded more than 100 players in his turbulent 18 months as coach and with the match against Germany will begin the huge job of trimming that list down to 23.

The two countries are among a number of troubled World Cup-bound teams who will be looking for good results to ease their recent problems.

Ivory Coast, Nigeria, France and England also need to convince their followers that they can pull themselves together in time for South Africa in June.

In other games, Ronaldinho will be on the sidelines after being left out of the squad by coach Dunga as Brazil take on Ireland on Tuesday in London at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.

Maradona was recently banned for two months for a foul-mouthed public outburst. Critics say he has looked all at sea with his selection policy and devalued the Argentine shirt by calling up so many players.

However, Maradona insisted recently that he had decided on half of his squad for South Africa, which still leaves 90 players for 12 other places.

Off-field problems are nothing new in Africa and Ivory Coast travel to London to face South Korea without a coach after Vahid Halilhodzic was sacked on Saturday following their poor campaign at the African Nations Cup.

Nigeria have also been playing musical chairs with the coach's position, last week naming Swede Lars Lagerback to replace Shaibu Amodu, sacked for only reaching the African Nations Cup semi-finals.

England's match against African champions Egypt will be their first since John Terry was stripped of the captaincy following an alleged affair with the former girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, who last week made himself unavailable for selection.

France, heavily criticised for their recent form and the manner of their qualification with a hugely controversial goal in their playoff against Ireland, host in-form Spain, who have won eight games in a row and 23 of their last 24.

There are several other games between World Cup qualifiers, including Switzerland against Uruguay in St Gallen, Mexico v New Zealand in Pasadena, Netherlands v United States in Amsterdam and Algeria v Serbia in Algiers.


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