For any fan of Argentina (including myself) the current struggle of the national team to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa is something that is becoming a nerve-wrecking problem. After the latest defeats to Brazil and Paraguay, Argentina is now only on fifth place in the South American qualification group, just 1 point behind Ecuador on fourth place, and one point ahead of both Uruguay and Venezuela. Although Argentina, with its history and quality players, should be considered a team to qualify directly to the World Cup, fifth place would still give them a play-off match against the fourth placed in the CONCACAF region (which looks to be Costa Rica).
The Argentinean coach, Diego Maradona, was the greatest player ever, but he has fallen in stature for many fans (including myself) for what seems to be his inexperienced approach to the national team that he otherwise gave so much. International stars such as Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Agüero, simply do not perform on the Argentine team, that in their latest defeat against Paraguay looked without confidence in their own abilities.
Besides the stars, some of Maradona's choices have been awkward: the defense looks very weak with some ageing debutants from Velez Sarsfield, while the use of the many small players in attack is not supplemented by some more physical players such as could be Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain or Lyon's Lissandro López. The inclusion of the 35 year old Martin Palermo (famous for having missed three penalties in one match in 1999), from Boca Juniors, who had been away from the national team for nine years, also seems odd considering the many other quality strikers available for Argentina.
However, not everything can be blamed on Maradona, and many seem to forget that Maradona took over a team in november 2008, that was already in crisis under the previous coach (and now Boca Juniors manager), Alfio Basile, who resigned amid some mysterious controversies after a defeat to Chile, and some disappointing results against Peru and Paraguay.
Maradona, the world legend of Argentinean football, was supposed to lead the team to the world cup, in spite of his lack of coaching experience. Argentina is now paying dearly for this, and is under pressure before the last two matches against Perú and Uruguay; Argentina may not qualify, and this would surely be a loss to the entire footballing world.
I really hope they will though.