Maradona picks out Pele for doubting SA

11 June 2010 - 18:18 By Sapa-dpa

Argentina national team coach Diego Maradona criticised Pele for having questioned South Africa's ability to stage the World Cup.

"When the tragedy happened to the Togo squad before the African Nations Cup, a certain dark-haired gentleman who used to play with the number 10 on his back said the World Cup would not take place in South Africa. In contrast, I said that it would go ahead," said Maradona Friday

The Togo national team was attacked in January 2010 at the African Cup of Nations and three individuals were killed.

Without actually mentioning Pele, with whom Maradona has an uneasy relationship, he continued: "This guy said that South Africa could not give guarantees but today South Africa has shown this dark-haired gentleman that it is capable of hosting the World Cup."

Maradona said he is hoping South Africa 2010 is a raging success.

"We are about to start the World Cup and I hope with all my heart that Africa puts on an excellent tournament and shows the world that here you can live with dignity just as in other parts of the world," he added.

The Argentine coach underlined the work put in to keep the tournament on schedule.

"It is a credit to Danny Jordan (head of the organising committee) and the people that believed in this project. I saw a lot of people working around the clock as the deadlines came closer," the legendary midfielder continued.

Argentina are training at the High Performance Centre of Pretoria University which has some of the most up to date sports facilities in the country.

"We have a phenomenal base camp and we feel very comfortable. We have definitely chosen the right place," said Maradona satisfied with what he calls his Pretoria 'bunker'.