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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Argentina deserved win - Maradona

Argentina boss Diego Maradona felt his side were worthy of their victory after Maxi Rodriguez's goal consigned Scotland to defeat at Hampden.

"It was a great experience and I was relaxed throughout," said Maradona. "It was a clear victory for us.

"We were brilliant for the first 25 minutes and scored a goal but we couldn't convert our half chances.

"We gave the ball away too easily but even then Scotland couldn't capitalise so we deserved our victory."

Scotland assistant Terry Butcher had said before the match that he would never forgive Maradona for the infamous "Hand of God" goal which helped knock England out of the 1986 World Cup.

And when asked if he had shaken hands with the former England captain at the end of the friendly in Glasgow, Maradona responded: "Who is he? Who is Butcher?

"I greeted the Scotland manager after the game. Who is Butcher?"

Scotland face a battle to qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals and Maradona said George Burley's side have some improving to do if they are to reach South Africa.

"Scotland are a fine side, they have good players, but we had a different level of skill," said Maradona.

"They have a chance but if they want to do that, then they will have to raise their game. It will be difficult."

The new Argentina coach was considerably more upbeat about his team's chances.

They currently lie third in the South American qualifying standings, seven points behind leaders Paraguay and one behind Brazil, with the top four teams guaranteed to qualify.

"I have dedicated myself 100% this week to lifting the morale of the players," said Maradona.

"We needed to get out of a bad run. We reached a low point with the defeat against Chile but it wasn't a case of blaming other people but working out why.

"The national association didn't sit back, they appointed a new coach and I have succeeded in removing the fear of defeat from the players.

"It has been a long time since we won and expressed ourselves on the pitch like that. Tonight we played for the blue and white and for the people of Argentina."

Maradona's daughter had suffered a pregnancy scare before the match which resulted in her fiancé and Argentina striker Sergio Aguero missing the game to return home to Spain.

"I've been thinking of my daughter and her baby and the lads made things easy for me during a difficult time," added Maradona.

"She was happy for me to be here leading the Argentina side. The players wore the shirt with pride and made me proud."

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