Maradona calls for fair play

Diego Maradona has appealed to FIFA to implement the virtues of their Fair Play campaign during the World Cup as Argentina prepare to get their campaign under way. Maradona, whose infamous ‘hand of God’ goal knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup, has urged referees to “understand what fair play is” in a bid to get protection for players.

Argentina begin their Group B campaign this afternoon against Nigeria with Maradona’s team fancied at 2/5 Full Time Result, with Nigeria 8/1 and the draw 7/2. Maradona’s dubious goal in 1986. He said: “I think FIFA must definitely look for fair play. Those who don`t want to play clean football should go up into the stands. People want to see football and we want people to watch football peacefully without violence.

“Let’s really look for fair play and referees should understand what fair play is. “When fair play started in 1990, I got a kick against Cameroon that nearly took my head off and we had (Claudio) Caniggia getting a yellow card for something little. “We’ve been through that but we want to see good football, we want to have fair play in matches, we want to enjoy this World Cup.” Today’s game is a potentially tough start for the two time world champions, but Maradona insists he has total faith in his squad.

“It’s great what we have. We are proud, we’re happy, and I think we’ve had good preparation. These 23 players, these monsters, these fighters, give me great peace of mind when I see them, which I’ve never felt before,” he said. Maradona refused to talk about his starting line-up for the Nigeria match but, with all of his players set to be fit the encounter, the 49-year-old admitted “there are not going to be any surprises in the team”.

Meanwhile, Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback has insisted that he has no plans to target Lionel Messi during the game. Lagerback said: “We are playing Argentina, not Messi. So there will be no player given the special job to mark him.” Lionel Messi is available to back at 7/2 to be First Goalscorer in the match against Nigeria.