Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mundo's 2008 Football Review - Part 2

Despite the many success we have seen from the Albiceleste at club level, the same cannot be said for our National team. I was confident that 2008 would be fantastic year considering how much of great moments we had in 2007 (apart from the Copa America final).

There were two part when it comes to the national team. One is the Beijing bound Under-23 side and the other is the senior side.

Unlike in 2004, when the senior head coach Marcelo BIELSA led the Olympic side to the Athens Games, the AFA has decided to give a different candidate rather than Coco BASILE. The man which they have chosen to do the all important task in retaining our gold medal was Sergio BATISTA.

Checho as he is known perhaps had the most luxurious group of players at his disposal, mainly from the Under-20 graduate of the class 2005 and 2007. Of course the two most standout character from this group are Lionel MESSI and Kun AGUERO. On top of that, he also named Juan Roman RIQUELME as one of his three over age players.

As far as many is concerned, football in the Olympics is very much a secondary event. But not this time because Brazil wanted to take the gold away from us so much. They wanted to bring their best and they brought RONALDHINO.

With all that in place, it became even more interesting to look forward too when our buddy Seba was there to give us some hands on news. But suddenly the road to Beijing hit a slight bump when Barcelona were refusing to allow MESSI to join the rest of the team. At one point, it did look like Checho was almost going to Bejing MESSI-less.

After all the much hype and dispute surrounding this event, there was nothing much that Barca can do because Lionel wanted to go and Beijing & the World wanted him there. I still remember how frustrating it was for all of us here during those times. But thank God all that was resolve.

For most part of the competition, our young guns didn’t set the tone as much they did in 2004. But all that changed when fate had it that we have to play Brazil in the semi-final. Only this time, it wasn’t to be Lionel’s night. Instead it was Kun AGUERO who stole the show by scoring twice in front of his soon to be father in law.

However in the end, it was meant to be Lionel’s tournament as it was his inspiring move that ensured Argentina won the gold medal against Nigeria in the final. His pass to DI MARIA reminded me when a certain Diego’s pass for Jorge BURRUCHAGA in the 1986 World Cup final. Another testament to prove on why young Lionel is the new MESSI-ah.

His presence there was more than on just on the field. Off the field he uplifted the entire mood of the Games. He made an impact that was never seen from a footballer at the Olympic Games. Even a certain Kobe BRYANT wanted to be seen by everyone next to him.

So what about senior team under Coco BASILE? Was it a year that was meant to be remembered. Not really for most part of it.

Throughout the qualifying round during the year, it was really disappointing as we only manage just one win, 5 draws and one defeat. Among the high point was getting goalless draw against Brazil in their own turf. The lowest had to be getting away with a draw against Ecuador after Rodrigo PALACIO scored a last minute equalizer and losing to Marcelo BIELSA’s Chile.

For us, as Argentina’s supporter, it was something just hard to swallow considering the fact that we had the best group of players in the planet. We argued that it was the coach, the tactics or the selection of players. It seems we had more things to argue about compare to the previous years.

But there was one thing that the majority of us had in common which was time for a change and Coco must go. And all our prayers were answered on the 16th of October when it was announced that he had resign from his post as Argentina’s manager. Now the next argument was who should be his successor? You’ll never had expected the drama that was about to be unfold after this.

First it was announced (unofficially) that Miguel RUSSO will be next man in charge. Everyone started talking about the man and how his team would be. But it wasn’t that long that the tide change quickly that it is going to Carlos BIANCHI. Again, we had the same discussion.

Finally when it was announced the next manager Argentina has already been decided and confirmed, on boy! We were in for a real surprise. For us as Albiceleste, this was more important than even the US Presidential Election.

It became official that on his 48th birthday, that the NEW manager of Argentina is the one and only Diego MARADONA. As always, any news regarding Diego can only the make the world go round.
His appointment did went down to easily with many football fans as he did split the line between his experience being coach and his charisma being a legend. Like always the people who adored him were always right behind me. The rest will never have anything good to say.

Immediately he went about his plan for the national team (though it is still 100% set up). He traveled around to meet the players to discuss about what’s in store for them in his set up. Among which naming his coaching staff and awarding the captain armband to Javier MASCHERANO.

The first assignment in the new Diego Revolution was the friendly match against Scotland in November. And he got off to a winning start with 1-0 win. So far in 2008, it is still unclear about the direction that Diego will take national team. But this is what makes this revolution so interesting because it is something outside the box and very refreshing.

It is also good to know that these days he is making headlines from the right reason (after all he is a proud grandpa!!!). From Glasgow to Calcutta, he is still very much loved by everyone. But we will look forward to 2009 with plenty of anticipation on this revolution. You can bet that Mundo will be there to cover it first.


AILÍN said...



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