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Germans play mind games with Argentina

sports Updated: Jul 01, 2010 19:01 IST

AP
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Germany's players chided Argentina for the second straight day Thursday, with captain Philipp Lahm accusing their World Cup quarterfinal opponents of being aggressive and provocative on the field.

Lahm's comments followed similar remarks by Bastian Schweinsteiger on Wednesday in which the midfielder said Argentina showed no respect for their opponents or referees. The German comments appeared to be aimed at destabilizing Argentina coach Diego Maradona, who is known to have a fiery temperament, before Saturday's quarterfinal match in Cape Town.

The two teams have history, fighting on the pitch after Germany beat Argentina on penalties in the quarterfinals at the 2006 tournament. Maradona mocked Schweinsteiger, saying nerves must be getting to the Germany midfielder.

After two days of rest, the World Cup resumes Friday with The Netherlands playing Brazil in Port Elizabeth and Uruguay meeting Ghana, Africa's last hope at the first World Cup to be played on the continent.

Brazil coach Dunga may have a hard time selecting his midfield against the Netherlands because of injuries and a suspension. Kaka and veteran Gilberto Silva are set to start at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, but a suspension to Ramires and injuries to Elano, Felipe Melo and Julio Baptista leave the coach with few options for the other two midfield positions.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is sticking by Fernando Torres despite the striker's poor World Cup form so far. Torres has struggled to establish himself in South Africa since returning from knee surgery in April. Although Fernando Llorente played well after replacing the Liverpool striker in the 1-0 win over Portugal, Del Bosque says "our striker is Fernando (Torres)." Spain plays Paraguay at Ellis Park on Saturday. Fallout for eliminated teams continued, with FIFA mulling what action to take against Nigeria, whose president, Goodluck Jonathan, ordered the team to sit out international competition for two years as punishment for its poor showing.

FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said that FIFA is looking at the case but is not yet ready to act. FIFA rules demand that national federations manage their affairs independently, or face suspension from world football. National and club teams then cannot play in international competitions.

Javier Aguirre quit as Mexico coach, three days after the national team was knocked out of the World Cup in a 3-1 loss to Argentina in the round of 16. It marked the fifth straight time that Mexico has been eliminated in the second round of the World Cup.

"I'm the person responsible," said Aguirre, adding that he'd made a commitment to reach the quarterfinals.

World Cup organizer Danny Jordaan said the tournament could set a 16-year high for paid attendance at games.

He said there is a "big possibility" that the tournament will surpass three million paying fans for the first time since 1994 in the United States.

"The signs are there, Jordaan said, adding that 2.69 million people had already paid to watch games. "The South African fans have been superb."