Messi to take Argentina to 2010 finals - Maradona

Friday, January 22, 2010

Johannesburg - Head coach Diego Maradona is confident that Argentinian soccer player, Lionel Messi, will take the country to the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"I have no doubt that Messi is one of the most exceptional soccer players in the world and I believe that he will beat Christiano Ronaldo hands down to scoop the best soccer player of the tournament," Maradona said on Thursday.

Maradona ended his five-day tour at Soccer City on Thursday.

Messi, who plays for FC Barcelona, is the current FIFA Player of the Year and UEFA Champions League top scorer in the 2008-2009 seasons.

He is well-known for mesmerising defenders and making goalies look useless.

Argentina will lock horns with Korea on 17 June at Soccer City, the host of both opening and final match of the World Cup.

Maradona described the multi-billion rand revamped stadia as one of the best in the world even though it was only 95 percent complete.

"I am impressed. This is one of the best stadiums in the world, congratulations to all those who worked here. There is no doubt that the soccer world cup will be a success," he said.

Maradona, who arrived on Monday to inspect football facilities ahead of the World Cup, was accompanied by South African Football Association (SAFA) President, Kirsten Nematandani and Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chief Executive Officer, Danny Jordaan.

Before he exchanged his national soccer team jersey with Jordaan, he showed construction workers his skills with the jabulani soccer balls to be used during the World Cup.

Earlier on the day, he donated two computers to Selekelela Secondary School, situated next to the state-of the art Orlando Stadium.

He also visited Orlando West High, where the 16 June 1976 uprising began. At both schools he distributed caps, soccer balls, shoes as well as his team's jerseys to the schools soccer teams.

Sekelela School Principal, Fikile Lepshe told BuaNews that as a school, they felt important, honoured and special by the visit and the aid they received from Maradona.

Maradona will jet off to his home country with a positive image about South Africa as a World Cup host.

"South Africans are friendly and loving, so there is no need to fear for security," said Maradona.