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Argentines make case for the defence

sports Updated: Jun 16, 2010 00:15 IST

Argentina will look to shore up their defence for Thursday's match against South Korea as Diego Maradona's side go in search of the win which would propel them into the last 16 at the World Cup.

Maradona played a back three in essence in the 1-0 opening win over Nigeria with Jonas Gutierrez as extra support but the coach, much maligned for using more than 100 players in barely 18 months in the job, is now set to field AS Roma's Nicolas Burdisso on the basis of pre-match training.

Gutierrez may keep his place, particularly if veteran deep midfielder Juan Veron does not recover from a calf strain, but Maradona is now mulling a 4-3-1-2 formation against the South Koreans, who looked fired up in seeing off Greece 2-0.

"There will not be any surprises," said Maradona, who looks likely to make Lionel Messi the link man behind Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain, having played all three as out and out attackers against Nigeria - when it took defender Gabriel Heinze to score the only goal.

Even so, the chances came their way and had it not been for some fine goalkeeping by Nigeria's Vincent Enyeama the margin would have been far greater as the South Americans showed that they are a far better side than the one which made such a meal of qualifying.

"We cannot pretend that we are not candidates for the title with the players and the coaching staff we have - but we have to show it match by match," insisted Burdisso, a world under-20 champion in 2001.

The question mark remains over the fitness of Veron, and Maradona may elect not to risk him just in case the former Manchester United and Chelsea man aggravates his injury.

But the Argentinians do have the likes of Mario Bolatti and also the more attacking-minded Maxi Rodriguez, if Veron is rested.

The Argentinians will certainly not be underestimating the South Koreans after the latters' Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-Sung insisted the Asians could cause an upset.

"Argentina are the best team in our group, but if we play as a team like we did (against Greece) we're capable of getting a result," said Park on

His coach Huh Jung-Moo also said his side are growing in confidence.

"We'll give it our best shot, because my players can only grow in stature against opponents of their calibre," said the 55-year-old.

"Argentina are among the favourites but we have good players, too.

"In football the lesser teams are always capable of beating the bigger ones."