Argentina, led by coach Diego Maradona and reigning FIFA Player of the Year Lionel Messi, were quickly whisked away to their team base, where they will spend the next few days acquainting themselves with local conditions. “I’m excited to be here, I love South Africa and I’m looking forward to the World Cup,” said Maradona following the team’s arrival at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International.
Maradona, who has visited South African shores before, has an idea of the conditions that await his team as they embark on yet another FIFA World Cup campaign. Argentina will launch their bid with a testing encounter against Nigeria at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park on on 12 June. They will then face Korea Republic before negotiating their final Group B match against former European champions Greece at Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Argentina have reached four FIFA World Cup Finals in all. They beat Netherlands in 1978 and West Germany in 1986 but lost to Uruguay in 1930 and to the Germans in 1990. They will be appearing in the FIFA World Cup for the 15th time, and the tenth in succession, at South Africa 2010.
Denmark, meanwhile, are returning after missing out on Germany 2006. Coach Morten Olsen said: “It’s always good to be in South Africa. I have been here plenty of times and I have always had a good time. I was told that it’s winter in South Africa, but when I landed this morning, I saw blue skies and sunshine. The most important thing for us is to adapt to the altitude and prepare for the tournament. I think this will be a challenge for all the European teams because some of them will not be used to the altitude. But we will use the next few days to adapt.”
Denmark will open their FIFA World Cup campaign against the Netherlands in Johannesburg before facing Cameroon in Tshwane/ Pretoria. Their last group match will be against Japan in Rustenburg. “We have a tough group, we are faced with sides like Netherlands, Japan and Cameroon. Of course for Cameroon, it’s going to be special because they are playing on African soil, but we will see how it goes,” concluded Olsen.