Brazilian legend Pele threw his support behind Diego Maradona, insisting that the Argentina coach was not to blame for his team's lacklustre form.

Pele said that responsibility for Argentina's mediocrity, which almost cost them a place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ finals, should be laid at the feet of the country's soccer bosses.

"Maradona wasn't an experienced coach. He started only last season (2008), so it's not his fault," Pele said.

"I don't believe that he's guilty. Perhaps the guilty one is the person who agreed to appoint him as coach."

Maradona wasn't an experienced coach. He started only last season (2008), so it's not his fault. I don't believe that he's guilty.

Pele on Argentina's lacklustre form

Despite the two countries' bitter rivalry, Pele believes that Argentina will be a force to be reckoned with at South Africa 2010.

"They will be very strong," he said. "They will be well-prepared, a team to beat."