Diego Maradona says that he is not contemplating defeat ahead of his Argentina side facing arch-rivals Brazil in next month's pivotal 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier.
With four games to go in the South American Zone, Argentina are lying fourth in the last automatic qualifying spot for South Africa, with 22 points, five behind leaders Brazil. Chile and Paraguay are in second and third respectively.
Despite that precarious position, Maradona was in positive mood today, telling a press conference in Rosario where the 5 September tie is being held: "I'm only thinking of victory, I'm not considering defeat."
Honours were shared with a goalless draw in the two countries' first meeting on the road to South Africa in Belo Horizonte in June last year. However, this time Maradona believes the outcome will be different.
We are all Argentinians and we're going to be coming up against our
biggest rivals. We have to remain united, otherwise Brazil can do us
"We're hungrier than Brazil," insisted the Argentine football legend, who this month was forced to dismiss reports linking him to the manager's job at English Premier League side Portsmouth. Maradona, who took over as Argentina boss in November 2008, spoke in reverential terms of Dunga's Brazilian side, which in June successfully defended their FIFA Confederations Cup title.
"The entire Brazil team makes me scared," he admitted. "They have a fantastic side but the best players must be Kaka and Robinho. I have the utmost respect for Carlos Dunga, he organises things very well."
He concluded by issuing a rallying cry to his team who had to come from behind to edge Russia 3-2 in a warm-up to the Brazil clash last week in Moscow. "We are all Argentinians and we're going to be coming up against our biggest rivals. We have to remain united, otherwise Brazil can do us great harm."
After Brazil, Argentina face another awkward assignment against the Paraguayans on 9 September, with the two-time world champions' remaining two qualifiers against bottom-of-the-table Peru and sixth-placed Uruguay in October.