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Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Wednesday, 16 June 2010 18:46 UK

World Cup 2010: Maradona hits out at Pele and Platini

Argentine coach Diego Maradona

World Cup 2010: Maradona rejects criticism

Argentina coach Diego Maradona has hit out at Brazil legend Pele and former France star Michel Platini.

Maradona said Pele should "go back to the museum" after the ex-Brazil striker was quoted claiming he had only taken the job because he needed the money.

The 1986 World Cup winner Maradona also reacted to reported negative comments by Platini about his coaching ability.

Maradona said: "We all know how the French are, and Platini is French and believes he is better than the rest."

The 50-year-old Argentine delivered his stinging comments at a news conference on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's Group B clash with South Korea in Johannesburg.

He said that he was unsurprised by Uefa president Platini's criticism of him, and described their relationship as "very distant".

And after previously complaining about the Jabulani ball, which has been subject to criticism throughout the tournament in South Africa, Maradona also challenged Pele and Platini to give the ball a try.

"I don't want to go into the ball again because everyone is talking about it," Maradona added.

"But it is important and it does play a part and I would ask Pele and Platini to go out there and play with the ball and take a closer look at it to see if it's a good one or bad one, and to stop talking rubbish about me."

As far as Thursday's match is concerned, Maradona told reporters that Argentina would be out for victory against surprise group leaders South Korea.

"Korea don't have a Messi, they're a very strong collective block, they're fast, they have a good team," he reflected.

"They're to be respected but we're going out to win that match. We don't know how to speculate with a result."

He added that no other player had performed "within 40%" of Lionel Messi, the Barcelona forward, who was named best player in the world by Fifa in 2009.

South Korea lead Group B on goal difference from Argentina after they beat Greece 2-0 on Saturday.

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see also
Veron ruled out of Argentina game
16 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Maradona welcomes calming victory
12 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Maradona makes plea for fair play
12 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team guide: Argentina
31 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010

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