Diego Maradona has boldly predicted that he can lead Argentina to their first FIFA World Cup™ triumph since his heroics on the pitch inspired them to glory in Mexico in 1986. Argentina's new boss makes his debut in the dugout against Scotland at Hampden on Wednesday night and has already set his sights set on making a major impact at South Africa 2010.
The South Amercians have made a slow start in their qualifying campaign and the match against George Burley's side will give Maradona a chance to assess the players at his disposal, despite the absence of key figures such as Lionel Messi and Juan Roman Riquelme. Despite his lack of coaching experience, Maradona appears confident he can replicate his on-field skills by becoming the man to guide and influence the current crop of superstars at his disposal.
"First and foremost, I only have one objective and that is to win the World Cup," said Maradona. "There is no point thinking about making it into the last four. With the players that we have that has to be our goal and that is what I will be striving to achieve. I took my first training session on Monday night and that was great for me to work with the players.
"My time has come now and I am really enjoying the moment. I will work on the tactics and how we approach the games but it is very important that I get into the players' hearts," he went on. "I think they need someone to guide them and I can do that. I want to make the players happy and proud to wear the shirt. I hope I will be good for them and they will be good for me."
It's ironic that the 48-year-old starts his managerial adventure at the place where he scored his first international goal. He was just 19 when he wowed Hampden and produced a stand-out performance alongside experienced performers who had lifted the FIFA World Cup a year earlier. And while Glasgow has embraced the charismatic football icon, he has promised them a 'feast of football' when he showcases his managerial skills for the first time.
"It is great to be back here. It has been a long time. I am pleased that I made a lot of Scottish people happy. I know the Scottish side well, I have watched DVDs of their recent matches," he said. "It is a game I am looking forward to. I hope to give the fans a real feast of football and it should be a great game."
While Maradona's footballing skills were legendary, he has yet to manage at the highest level - despite an ill-fated spell in his native Argentina. But he seemed assured and confident is his first official press conference and handled questions the way he used to handle defenders. He has promised to keep it simple and he hopes it's his players and not his touchline antics that grab the headlines.
He added: "I will play players where I feel they are best suited to play for the good of the team. That is my simple plan, I will play them where they will give the best for the team. I hope that I will be happy and contend but it may be different if the team are not doing well."