Diego Maradona wants his Argentina team to stay focused on the job at hand rather than worry about who they may or may not meet later on in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. The South Americans took a major step towards qualification from Group B with a commanding display against Korea Republic on Thursday as Gonzalo Higuain scored the first hat-trick of the competition in a 4-1 win in Johannesburg.
"We've seen my team play, we have evaluated the players, we've taken a look at what may be in store for us, but we want to concentrate and go on playing this way," said Maradona. "We want to follow this path. We don't want to think so much about possible opponents and other teams we could perhaps meet afterward. I think the competition as such is important and also to have a certain competition amongst the players to see how we work as a team in the World Cup instead of looking at the other teams."
Maradona, who has been criticised as a coach from several quarters during his tenure, does not share sentiments that leading Argentina to the brink of a round of 16 place with a game to spare has made him a better coach. "I don't know to what extent I've been growing as a coach," he continued. "I've always been there to help the players, guide the players and everything that has happened to me in football my life, I have a good experience. I have learnt enormously along the years. If it means I have improved as a coach, that's for the players to say. But if you have such a sensational team, that's easy."
The Argentina boss has also been seen to show plenty of affection towards his players, something he reveals is part of his personality. "It could be that I have some weaknesses as a coach and it's a matter of affection," he said. "We have a great group, we have a great team that is indeed frank and open, just like a family. If someone comes late for a training session, we like to talk about it. I believe that understanding and matching things is better than giving someone a fine. If you do it nicely, things go better."