Rowdy Roddy Pibes – Make Way for the Bad Guy Part II

Besides the deportations, the police also paid a visit to the self-proclaimed barra oficial at their hotel in the suburbs of Johannesburg, in a show of force. Fourty-two barras had their details taken and eventually they had to leave as they didn’t have enough money to pay for their stay there. They were warned not to show up at the stadiums in the case that they did not have tickets.

And they appear to be getting a tad desperate. Grondona assured us two Sundays ago that there would be no tickets for any barras. Whether he’s to be believed is another matter. In any case, on Saturday four hooligans went to where the AFA delegates (club officials they’re used to squeezing tightly in Argentina) were munching their golden apples to demand tickets and money. Not happy with the negative response, decibels rose until a swallow fell out of a tree and the police were called.

According to Olé, five showed up trying to get passes that would allow them to pose as volunteers and gain access to all the secret parts of South Africa no-one wants you to see, like Blatter’s candy dungeon lined with the finest Danish pastries, or Messi’s famous play station, which is really just a one-man swingset in bare room.

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Maggie, I wish I’d never seen your face
I’ll get on back home one of these days

Let there be no mistake, oh dear, handsome readers, pegamequemegusta is a stickler for justice. During our childhood under a bush in Mountjoy Square, we would cackle as the so-called victims of our glorious capitalist system were led to the flogging house to make their acquaintance with their intellectual equal, the slop bucket. Oh yes, although we would whine so when mother stripped bark from the spindly branches to get extra snap on her lashes, it set in motion a lifelong thirst for the rod that would make Maggie May blush with barely contained jealousy.

So when pegamequemegusta brought you the tale of known hooligans travelling from Argentina with the complicity of the state, their clubs, AFA delegates and perhaps even members of the management team, we were positively vuvuzueling with impotent self-righteousness. How could the courts and magistrates, the police, all those people in the airport who check your passport over and over again, how could they let these people through? How could the chief security chap claim to be ignorant of the presence of known hooligans on the squad’s flight? How could violent thugs pose as ‘social workers’ in a politically militant government-supporting ‘NGO’, Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas [HUA]? The country could no longer be taken seriously, boomed pegamequemegusta.

Even if there was not much of a danger of violence against other fans (except the English, perhaps), and the different factions of barras could work something out between them, it’d still be an embarrassment. Travelling to a World Cup being so far beyond the reach of any normal Argentine, the relatively tiny number of barras that do go do so – besides the football, obviously – for bragging rights, to show their particular club has the graft and cunning to get them there. Yes, it’s all about looks, and the state looks pathetic, weak and corrupt.

In a fine blog piece in Olé today, proper journalist Walter Vargas writes:

Of course the image Argentina has in the world will always be greater and more complex than whatever happens in a World Cup, but try explaining that to whoever ends up being witness to the barras’ infractions that ‘this is just what these misfits do’. [….] And the really cringeworthy part of things? That Maradona, Bilardo, Grondona and the other lads at the top [of the AFA] claim they don’t know or just don’t answer questions about it. A nation of Pontius Pilates.

Meanwhile, the Families of Victims of Violence in Argentine Football (FAVIFA) expanded their ongoing lawsuit against the AFA and Julio Grondona today, accusing the organisation of facilitating the barras’ journey.

Barras arriving in South Africa

Luckily, despite the numerous failures on the Argentine side, the South African police have stepped in and have been harassing the barras all week. They’ve been doing some of the work the Argentine authorities should have done in the first place. Andrés Pillín [the Menace] Bracamonte, head of Rosario Central’s core hooligan faction, was given permission to leave the country last Friday by magistrate Silvia Lamperti but the Immigration people in Pretoria didn’t give a hoot. Back on the plane, son. Tucumán legislator María del Pilar Prieto had refused permission to Sergio Gustavo Flay Roldán, who is on parole for the attempted murder of a 14 year old, to leave the country but he went anyway. He, too, was sent back home.

One of the most intriguing deportations, however, was that of Pablo Bebote [Babyface] Álvarez, leader of the Independiente barra brava. Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas [Argentine Fans United] look to be by far the biggest group of barras in South Africa and in Álvarez they have now lost their ‘treasurer’. So for the moment it is uncertain whether many of them will even have tickets or money to fund their stay. Losing their leaders bit by bit and finding that, despite all the shenanigans and anecdotes for the grandkids about how they swindled their way there, things are working out about as comfortably as pegamequemegusta’s trip to the bee farm dressed in a pollen suit.

Besides the deportations, the police also paid a visit to the self-proclaimed barra oficial at their hotel in the suburbs of Johannesburg, in a show of force. Fourty-two barras had their details taken and eventually they had to leave as they didn’t have enough money to pay for their stay there. They were warned not to show up at the stadiums in the case that they did not have tickets.

And they appear to be getting a tad desperate. Grondona assured us two Sundays ago that there would be no tickets for any barras. Whether he’s to be believed is another matter. In any case, on Saturday four hooligans went to where the AFA delegates (club officials they’re used to squeezing tightly in Argentina) were munching their golden apples to demand tickets and money. Not happy with the negative response, decibels rose until a swallow fell out of a tree and the police were called.

According to Olé, five showed up trying to get passes that would allow them to pose as volunteers and gain access to all the secret parts of South Africa no-one wants you to see, like Blatter’s candy dungeon lined with the finest Danish pastries, or Messi’s famous play station, which is really just a one-man swing set in bare room.

This is great news. Indeed pegamequemegusta did not expect this turn of events when we were prophesying the death of the last vestiges of Argentine dignity the other day. Justice is being upheld. The lash of the sap on our juvenile behind seems but a moment ago.

Yet now we’ll have leaderless, ticketless thugs hanging around with no money to live for about a month in South Africa. From what pegamequemegusta has seen on the telly so far, certain towns and cities in South Africa bear a great resemblance to the largely low-rise, high density, blocked set-up of Argentina. So we could see a bizarre recurrence of the usual boludoísmo present on Argentine street corners as the barras loaf about continuing their love affair with unproductive non-action (well, we can’t all be bloggers, of course).

Indeed, this has already started to a certain extent: in one of its more successful colour pieces, today’s Olé features a taxi-driver from Santa Fe and a Córdoban couple who are sleeping in a car. They saved up just enough money to make the journey but are still struggling to get by. So one of them, after exchanging pleasantries with some petrol pumpers at a nearby garage, remembered his homeland and grabbed a bucket and a squeegee and began cleaning car windscreens on street corners. There are now three of them on various intersections.:”In the first half hour I made 130 rand – about 18 dollars! At this rate i’ll be sorted!”

But such enterprising behaviour is beyond the mongoloids of the HUA. One un-named social worker threatened: “A lot of shit is gonna start flying round here. What the policía federal have done is bloody insane! They let the lads leave the country and when they get here they get sent back home. It’s a cop-out,” he punned ingeniously, “and they’re not going to get away with it.”

Canchallena are reporting that 100 more HUA barras are travelling today to join up with the 95 that are already in Pretoria. Founder and political mastermind, Marcelo Mallo, will be arriving tomorrow or Thursday and he will have a lot to sort out. If he doesn’t, things could well get nasty. Maybe the lashing came too soon.

Bicentennial Man – Diego Presidente

The media may tell you that it was a glorious mix of pride and humility in their finest forms, patriotism at its purest, that she was overwhelmed by the sheer joy of being Argentinian. Pegamequemegusta can reveal, however, that her tears were due to having to warm up for the real man of the hour, Diego Maradona.

Diego with la Presidenta in his lamentable beardless period

Argentina está de fiesta. The country is awash with the sort of fervid nationalism not seen since… last month, when the commemoration of the Malvinas conflict led outburst of flag-waving that would make your average American look like a limp-wristed, yellow-bellied communist. Tuesday the 25th of May will be the 200th anniversary of the Revolución de mayo and such is the importance of the party that Cristina has declared Monday 24th a bank holiday, too, thus creating an extended nay super weekend of music, dancing, endless parades, flag-waving, theatre (the Colón reopens tonight) and football – the send-off for la Selección is on Monday night against Canada – for the country’s bicentennial.

Cristina chokes up

The celebrations, which will go on til Wednesday morning, were opened earlier in the evening by la Presidenta, who choked up and was seen to have tears in her eyes as she spoke: “God willed that I should be President during the Bicentennial but i’d like to thank everyone for all their hard work in the lead-up to the 25th and afterwards, too, as the Patria is constructed by and for everyone.” The media may tell you that it was a glorious mix of pride and humility in their finest forms, patriotism at its purest, that she was overwhelmed by the sheer joy of being Argentinian. Pegamequemegusta can reveal, however, that her tears were due to having to warm up for the real man of the hour, Diego Maradona.

Though he told Niembro in that interview last week when he was a player his every departure from his homeland was marked by salty discharges from his eyes, pegamequemegusta reckons Maradona would be happy to get to South Africa as soon as possible. He was on tv last night in yet another interview, an ego massage chirpier than an afternoon at Ian Holloway’s house, to be feted in the greatest fete since the Marley Grange bake sale of 1991 (when all but three walnutty cakes were sold), but he looked tired. Diego was across town doing what he does best – talking. So much so, indeed that by the time he appeared on Canal 13 last night he was quite out of breath. for the first while. María Laura Santillán y Santo Biasatti got him feeling comfortable, however, with a good ego massage. Argentinian Pride, ‘the jersey’ and Maradona being a legend came up quite frequently. Indeed, the occasion even prompted him to make one of his old socialist comments: “No, María, we’re not under any pressure. The guy who goes out looking for work for 14 hours a day to try and provide for his family, he’s under pressure.” Vamos, Diego, the presidency won’t be too far off if you nail this one, we thought.

La Presidenta proves she and Diego could well exchange posts without missing a beat

Yet pegamequemegusta felt we had heard that one before… My God, could it be that such is the pressure to talk these days that Diego might run out of charm. What kind of a world would it be if we had to listen to Maradona everyday? The World Cup will certainly be his biggest test yet: can he stay interesting? This later interview was just a Richard & Judy affair, however, a fluffing exercise where he was asked such probing questions as what he planned to pack for the World Cup: “Well i’m not going to pack much stuff ’cause the important thing is what we bring back.” Yet our fears were allayed – Diego was all talked out. He had spent the day holding court before the assembled media, and many was the pearl his most regal of beards did proffer.

On Messi

The first topic of the day was, inevitably, Messi. Maradona has been thoroughly chuffed with Lio since his foulmouthed, indeed, Diego-like outburst last week upon his coronation with Barcelona last week: “Visca el Barca! Visca Catalunya! And long live Argen-fuckin-tina!” It seems as if all the media harpying has ultimately served to piss Messi off enough to make the greatest player in the world feel he still has plenty to prove. Hence he showed up a few days early this week for training in Ezeiza and Maradona been licking his chops all week. The manager has no doubts but that his star man is enchufado: “If he’s on the same wavelength as Mascherano, Heinze, Verón, and if we can get across our message, then I think he’ll be 100% at the World Cup.” About marking: “They’re going to mark him to death, deffo, but we’ll have him trained mentally. Physically there’s nothing more to do, Barcelona already did that work, but we’ll give him mental training, make sure he’s got the intensity you need for a World Cup. Everyone’s going to seek him out and he’s going to have to deal with it.”

  • Is he going to be the number 10?
  • Yes, he’s going to be the number 10.

“Every time I see him I love him more and more. In the first training session I was saying to the lads, ‘Jaysus, how does he do that?’ It’s a pleasure to watch Messi kill a ball. I was wondering how he can have such a level of perfection. And el Negro Manrique turns to me and goes ‘You’re asking how he does it, you dosser?!’ You know, I played with great players, I saw others play; I was blown away once watching Ronaldinho train, but this kid… he’s gone one better.”

  • You can’t think of any comparison?
  • Nah, nah, I can’t, but he’s got an incredible future ahead of him.
  • Would you’ve liked to have played alongside him?
  • The one-twos we’d have played! You drool watching him.

On the starting 11

As regards the rest of the team, however, although Maradona has been repeating for months now that he knows what his team will be, that the Germany test was confirmation of his plan after (improvised) success in Montevideo, he rejected any suggestion that it was set in stone: “Everyday I see [on the telly] that you set out the team, you switch one player for another, that there’ll be four centre backs… But i’m bringin Clemente who can play on at right or left-back. So you needn’t swallow so easily all that stuff about four centre backs.”

  • But you confirmed it on the radio…
  • Yeah, but since then you talk to me so much about four centre backs that you’d think it was a crime, as if I was a bloody Italian!

Nonetheless, he went on to say that the four centre backs plan was true to a point but he did have other options at full back. Likewise, despite lamenting ESPN’s scheduling which often excludes Palermo games, in midfield he’s sure that the “sassy” Pastore can do a job when called upon, while on the wings, polyfunctional players such as Maxi and Jonás ensure a plethora of options. Whether these options would really constitute a Plan B as opposed to being mere inferior versions of the starting eleven remains to be seen, however. For his part, Maradona says “We’ve done all our homework and have no doubt but that whoever plays will do the job we set out for him.”

On the squad

Of the squad, the man whose call-up this week has caused so many twisted eyebrows most of the pundits on the telly have looked like they just came from a Ming the Merciless convention, Ariel Garcé, Maradona was quick to defend himself:

“If you lot are surprised by Garcé being called up, you didn’t see any of Colón’s games. You probably don’t even know where Santa Fe is! […] When I called him up [for the Haiti friendly] he convinced me: I observed him in the dressing room, in training. [….] And he’s not here on holidays, i’ll have you know. Whoever thinks they’re here just to make up the numbers is wrong. Garcé’ll be one of my options.” He went on to express his sorrow at having to only pick 23 players saying “It was a real pain in the balls” to leave out players like Lavezzi.

Just as Garcé managed to convince Diego through his gait and his excellent posture, the manager assured the press that he will be watching the players every minute of the day, “how interested they are in training, how they speak to each other, how many times they go to the bathroom before each game… I’ll be watching them in the dressing room, in the hotel. Still, I don’t think the jersey will be any problem for this group of players.”

Verón, Maxi, Messi, Tevez, Maradona & Mascherano in Ezeiza this afternoon

What he does with the trouser-darkening array of forwards he has at his disposal, if not a simple decision by any means, does seem easier to anticipate, however. Despite Milito’s Caniggia-like prowess in today’s Champo League final, Maradona has been reserved as to what plans, if any, he has for Inter’s deadly striker. Perhaps it’s just because he hasn’t showed up yet or maybe he was only obliged to included him by dint of his prolificacy. In any case, he has had words for Higuaín and Tevez:

“I was asking him today if Real had given him a ten year contract extension yet and he says to me ‘they haven’t rang me yet’. Just like that, you know. So I said, ‘Relax, buddy, you’ve done what you had to do: score 250 goals. Now just get your old man to go and get as much money out of them as possible, or get them to sell you for 70 million quid.

“Then you’ve got Carlitos, who gives his all in every training session [really?] and you say to yourself: ‘God, how am I going to leave him out?’ […] Leaving Carlitos out is tough.”

Indeed, Tevez today swore that he was going to make Maradona’s decision as difficult as possible: “It’s not gonna be easy for him, not at all. Still, it’s nice, healthy competition with the best of the best, Messi and Higuaín.” For his part, Diego posited the possibility of playing with two strikers at some point and playing Messi a little further back, almost as a classic number 10. It’s a delicious idea but one which hasn’t worked the few times it has been tried, such as in the defeat to Chile in Santiago, which was notable for two things: firstly, it featured a rare start for Diego Milito; and second. it was Coco Basile’s last match. Nonetheless, given Maradona’s belief in the transformative power of the World Cup – a sort of giant holy well from which only Argentines can drink, apparently – even his own twisted logic would permit some tinkering.

On the World Cup

  • What would you consider a good World Cup?
  • Coming first. Bringing back the trophy.
  • Are we favourites? No, ’cause the favourites never win it. Let Spain be favourites,” he replied while grabbing his balls in an apparent effort to ward off evil spirits.

His terrifically Argentine (or terrifically Diegoish.. has pegamequemegusta come to confuse what’s typically Argentine with what’s typical of Diego? Would we be right in doing so?) routine continued with such lines as “It’s not just your head or your skill you need to win a World Cup, even your arse has a part to play.” This might be a the clearest justification yet for calling up Palermo.

He was a tad more reflexive when asked if Argentina would play silky football in South Africa: “We’ll all go out to win and throw all the meat on the grill. But not at any price. As Angelito Cappa says, if you play well you have a greater chance of winning than losing.” He also made a good point about how long the season is and the negative effect on the team’s preparations: “In ’86 we trained together for 70 days. Nowadays, a little later and they’ll stick the Champion’s League final on the 30th. We’re in up to our necks [balls, he said, obviously]. You’ve got less chances to experiment. But i’m not worried about it all. The lads know what I want from them.”

On his sins

In this long interview, where we’d seen both Maradona clown and Maradona maestro, there was even time for Maradona-confessor:

  • What have you learned since you took over?
  • To treat the players better. To respect them more. I had a certain idea of what players were like but I realised from my actions that I was right about some things and completely wrong on others.

  • What changed?
  • Times have changed. Players nowadays are much more professional, they’re smarter. […] They’re more likely to speak up. They’re always asking questions. We weren’t like that: Bilardo would talk for 45 minutes and we would just nod and say ‘yes, boss, yeah, yeah’; he’d be having a go at everyone and the only thing we were thinking was ‘when’s it going to be my turn?’

  • And what mistakes did you make?
  • Noooooo….. Eeehhhhhhhhhhh…… Well of course there were some errors that we tried to sort out straightaway and couldn’t. But with time we straightened them out. When we took over the team, you know, we knew we were on the ropes… And it was tough, you know, everything that went on in the qualifiers… that players don’t play at the same level they can play at in the World Cup… so I made mistakes, I made a lot of mistakes, but, you know, we qualified and now i’m very confident.”

Regular visitors to pegamequemegusta will not be surprised to learn that canchallena gives a lot more details to this part of the interview than Olé does.

On his contract

Nonetheless, the latter does include a rather interesting part left out by canchallena on the details of Maradona’s contract. When asked if he’ll stay on as manager of la Selección “come what may”, he replied that it’s not up to him, that Grondona decides these matters. Grand, but then he went on a Maradonian speech where it’s hard to separate verifiable fact from fatuous verbosity: “I’m not going to stay on where i’m not wanted. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to get paid for nothing. And i’ll tell you something else: I get paid for winning. I don’t get paid if I draw or lose. That’s what my contract says. I get paid for winning. Alright, lads?” Pegamequemegusta was ready to suppose it was mere wing-flapping but he repeated the same thing on the aforementioned interview on Canal 13 later that evening, saying he doesn’t eat if he doesn’t win.” It would certainly explain those friendlies against Haiti, Costa Rica, Ghana’s youths and Jamaica; and that he hasn’t drawn a game so far. It might also explain why Diego’s so anxious to get to South Africa: pay days await. The Bicentennial can stuff its party in a sack.

BA's 23-lane 9 de julio en plena fiesta

On who’s boss

Yet whether the organisers of said party really care about Maradona was thrown into some confusion this evening. Despite the piss-take at the beginning of this post, Maradona’s only real function this celebratory weekend was to lead the team out in the Monumental for the send-off game against Canada on Monday night. That match would have gone ahead bicentennial or no, pegamequemegusta having gone four years ago. However, there is evidence to suggest that the national team is once again being used as the tool of their political masters. The 58,477 tickets available for the friendly apparently sold out in a matter of hours. Not even during the qualifiers did tickets ever go so fast. There were no lines round the block showing massive interest in the game for the tickets vanished via online gougers ticketek. Yet canchallena tell us that sources high in the Presidenta’s office revealed that the tickets have a “special destiny”. That is to say, the Grondona and the AFA seem to have paid back some of their debt to the Kirchners for Fútbol para todos (last year’s nationalising of football by stripping the equivalent of Sky of their deal and putting all matches on free-to-air tv) by handing over all the tickets, which in turn will be doled out to ‘political activists’. More than sympathetic to Cristina’s cause, they will ensure that despite all the fanfare surrounding la Selección, no-one will forget whose party this really is. No-one outdoes la Presidenta, Diego, not even you.

Yes, folks, even pegamequemegusta has been caught up in the fervour.

Ariel Garcé, say again? Argentina World Cup Squad Confirmed

On his CV one sees that he has played for Morelia de México, Colón, Olimpo and Rosario Central and he has played three times in the celeste y blanca. Marcelo Bielsa called him up back in 2003 to play against Honduras and the USA. He could not finish the first match as he was sent off; the second, he did. And the third was against Haiti, in Cutral-Có. It was his first game under Maradona. He played right back against a team far down in the world rankings that barely attacked. He sent in the cross for Palermo’s goal and was rewarded with the ‘good stuff, Chino, good stuff’ from the bench.

Ariel Garcé, say Olé, will definitely be in the final 23 man squad. Say again? Garcé (30), has not been hiding under a rock his entire career. His brilliance has been recognised by the likes of Morelia de México, Colón, Olimpo and Rosario Central. Olé, in one of its most bizarre lapses of all common sense, of all dignity, is dancing like a giddy child at seeing what it seems to regard as one of its own, touched by God.

Once the decision has been made (or even hinted at) it becomes sacrosanct, ponderable only in terms of what it offers as a glimpse into the mind of an unquestionable genius. This mystical occasions are accompanied with the kind of vertiginous joy bloggers feel when their nappies are changed and the world to its very vanishing point becomes an avenue of freshness.

Even in a bizarre paragraph outlining his achievements to date, enthusiasm leaves doubt on its flabby ass: “Ariel Hernán Garcé is ‘el Chino’. On his CV one sees that he has played for Morelia de México, Colón, Olimpo and Rosario Central and he has played three times in the celeste y blanca. Marcelo Bielsa called him up back in 2003 to play against Honduras and the USA. He could not finish the first match as he was sent off; the second, he did. And the third was against Haiti, in Cutral-Có. It was his first game under Maradona. He played right back against a team far down in the world rankings that barely attacked. He sent in the cross for Palermo’s goal and was rewarded with the ‘good stuff, Chino, good stuff’ from the bench. And got himself in contention.”

Next time you feel tempted to complain about journalism in your part of the world, remember this. Both of pegamequemegusta’s hearts skipped slightly as the words struggled to align themselves to the globules of grammar and logic that supposedly float inside us. You’d swear this was a school report, a show and tell piece cobbled together from a Wikipedia entry written by a drunken, shell-shocked squirrel.  Besides the fact that it omits Garcé’s five year stint with a good River team (ten years ago), consider the reasoning behind the inclusion of this ‘quote’: ‘Good stuff, Chino, good stuff’ – the demented babbling seems to come in slow motion as if it were being spoken in that computer robot voice and dubbed over the denouement to Platoon.

Pegamequemegusta was sure that of all the nobodies – and we royally reiterate, they’re nobodies even in Argentina – called up to the provisional squad, Garcé had no chance.  Nonetheless it looks like the idea is that he goes as back up for Otamendi. It’s not personal, Masche, he just has no place being at the World Cup.  This isn’t a case of being such a Eurocentric that you can’t recognise a player’s good unless he’s not playing in foreign lands. After all, although he wouldn’t be in our squad due to the sheer number of awesome to semi-awesome players that have proven themselves in the ‘top flight’, pegamequemegusta does condescend to find Maradona’s selection of Sebastián Blanco quite interesting both for his qualities as a player and as an alternative left winger (though he’s no Maxi Moralez…). Diego’s taken the not-recognising-a-prophet worry and blown it into a complex that would make pegamequemegusta’s virgin though vicious and violent cat look like a vicarious vicar vying for veldspar in a Venezuelan valley (where said ore proliferates – and anyway, verbosity is not a vice).

Who cares, jaysus, we all knew really that this nonsense was going to happen. As chance would have it, though, just this evening pegamequemegusta was peering at the Guardian website and re-discovered an excellent Marcela Mora y Araujo article from last September. Yes, just after the spanking defeat doled out by Dunga’s Brazil.

One of the best parts is this: “The press, over whom descended a bizarre fear of stating the potential unmitigating disaster this could be, are beginning to suggest that soon they will become more critical.” Genius: they never said a thing when Basile started calling up random players and then discarding them nor when Maradona intensified the nonsense.

This goes to the black heart of the ‘Good stuff, Chino’ nonsense above – ‘uncle’ Julio Grondona is not only the head of the AFA but also an important stakeholder in Grupo Clarín, Olé‘s parent paper. While we hardly think Grondona was barking down the phone to big up Garcé, the reluctance to antagonise him in any way appears to have led to the craven bullshit outlined above.

Olé is a joke when it comes to what we shall tentatively refer to as editorial policy. Yet it’s the biggest-selling sports paper. The situation makes an even bigger joke of Diego and others’ claims of persecution by the media.

One more quote from the professional’s pen: “The clear lack of leadership within the squad needs to be resolved. The players are apparently suffering from the well-known social loafing syndrome, whereby in a collective enterprise each individual in the group underperforms relative to individual potential. Someone from within needs to redress this and bring out the best from each of the 62 young men who have been called up to duty and then left out to hang.” A slightly more sophisticated analysis than Diego’s somewhat simplistic players-in-Primera-have-balls-‘outsiders’-don’t, wouldn’t you say. And yet Maradona’s hopes appear to be resting on a sudden metamorphosis occurring in the chrysalis that is the tunnel in Johannesburg. Garcé is just one who’ll either be a butterfly or a Gregor Samsa.

Something tells me their wax wings will neither be slain by shadow nor by the sun. O sea, they’re coming back in the quarters, as usual.

*No-one’s feelings were hurt in the drafting of this post, though the cat did scratch the missus quite badly. Usual prize for last line reference(s).

………………………..

Later that day, squad confirmed:

-Romero, Andújar, Pozo

-Otamendi, Demichelis, Samuel, Heinze, Burdisso, Garcé, Clemente Rodriguez

-Mascherano, Jonás, Verón, Di María, Maxi Rodriguez, Pastore, Bolatti

-Messi, Tevez, Diego Milito, Higuaín, Aguero, Palermo

Yes, there are almost as many strikers as defenders.