Monumental personality

Maradona continues to remain Argentines favourite
Last Updated 07 July 2010, 17:43 IST

Juan Cabandie, a member of the lower house of the Argentine congress, sponsored a bill on Wednesday to honour Maradona “as an icon of popular Argentine culture.”

One of Maradona’s assistant coaches has publicly urged him to stay in the job after the team was thrashed 4-0 by Germany on Saturday. A senior member of the Argentine Football Association has said the decision rests with Maradona, who has yet to make his plans clear.

Maradona has also received encouragement from Argentina President Cristina
Fernandez, and two of his players — starting midfielder Angel Di Maria and substitute goalkeeper Mariano Andujar — offered their public support.

“The Argentine people have shown that, when it comes to Maradona, the results are not important,”

Cabandie said. “Having been eliminated in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in South Africa, in a lopsided loss, thousands of people came to the streets to meet him and his 23 players.”

Maradona is reported to be shut away in his house in the Buenos Aires suburb of Ezeiza. Some newspaper reports suggest he is depressed and wants to quit. But his unpredictable nature leads few to say for certain he will step away, with the South American continental championship, the Copa America, just a year away and Argentina the host nation.

Building a monument would officially place Maradona in the pantheon of national icons, joining former President Juan Peron, his second wife Eva, and Carlos Gardel, the most important figure in the history of tango.

Argentina struggled to qualify for the World Cup, absorbing embarrassing losses against Bolivia (6-1) and Brazil (3-1). But the team seemed on course in South Africa for a third World Cup title after group-stage wins against Nigeria, South Korea and Greece.

It defeated Mexico 3-1 in the round of 16,  and then came the humiliating loss to Germany, which again led many to question Maradona’s tactical knowledge.

Though 20,000 fans greeted the team’s arrival on Sunday, an online poll by the newspaper Clarin showed 63.1 percent wanted Maradona to quit. Other polls showed similar results.  

(Published 07 July 2010, 17:43 IST)

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