Diego Maradona has warned that his Argentina side will not fear any opponent at the FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa after they began their quest for a third global title with a victory.
The South Americans were 1-0 winners over Nigeria at Ellis Park on Saturday and the success could have been by a greater margin but for some superb saves from Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who lived up to his nickname of 'The Cat' and was hailed as a "phenomenon" by Lionel Messi.
The Barcelona star was denied time and time again by Enyeama, and while the lead remained just 1-0 there was always the prospect that the Africans could find a way back into the game, and they threatened more as the match wore on.
Maradona is six wins away from equalling the achievement of Franz Beckenbauer in winning the FIFA World Cup as a player and coach, but the comparison to the German at this early stage of the competition seemed to amuse and bewilder him.
"Well I'm not similar at all, I don't look like Beckenbauer and I never will," he said. "To say that I could equal him I would have to make a prediction. I would have to have a crystal ball and be a magician, and I'm not a magician, I'm just a coach. We have to improve a lot of things to play that seventh match but I thought our men did a great job."
On the subject of having failed to convert so many openings he said: "We have been testing and practising many types of play, all my target men have been practising and in this game we weren't that lucky, we weren't able to show on the scoreboard what we were doing on the pitch. Undoubtedly when you play in a World Cup, winning the first game keeps us cool and calm for the next match."
Undoubtedly when you play in a FIFA World Cup, winning the first game keeps us cool and calm for the next match.
Asked if he feared such missed chances could cost more dearly against stronger opposition, Maradona added: "Fear doesn't exist in football, whoever is afraid should stay at home, you should never feel afraid in football."
Nigeria goalkeeper Enyeama drew the courage and coolness required for his man-of-the-match display from his religious beliefs. The Hapoel Tel Aviv stopper said: "I want to thank God, I don't know how I got to some of the shots but it was by the grace of God, he made a difference today."
Some good old-fashioned homework on Messi's favoured striking techniques helped too, though. "I saw his games and I think I got a good bit of information on him," Enyeama added.
Messi, who gave one of his best displays to date in an Argentina shirt, told Clarin newspaper: "The goalkeeper was a phenomenon. The important thing is we created chances. We are playing well and the result was perfect for us. We are happy."
His team-mate Jonas Gutierrez told Press Association Sport: "It was a very good game, a very hard game. We didn't score the second goal which made it harder for us but I think the national team of Argentina did a good job.
"It was a little worrying that we couldn't score a second but Nigeria made it a little difficult for us. More importantly I feel that we played well. We have gained confidence from these three points, now we are focusing on the second game. Nigeria have a very good team with very good players so it wasn't a surprise to see how strong they were."
A win over South Korea on Thursday would put Maradona's men in a strong position to win the group, while Nigeria must look for maximum points against Greece later that day to keep their hopes of progress alive.