USA 1994 Argentina 2 Nigeria 1: Diego’s last matchAugust 20, 2008 at 5:17 am | Posted in World Cup Memories | 1 Comment
USA 94 was an interesting tournament, and one of the reasons it looked like being fun was that Diego Maradona was back, seemingly fit, and keen to play. Diego was clearly enjoying being back with Argentina, scoring a goal in the 4-0 thrashing of Greece.
Nigeria had impressed in its first game, beating eventual semi-finalist Bulgaria 3-0. It was set to be a clash of the old guard verses the new. Nigeria scored a goal soon after the kickoff, and looked ready to upset Argentina. Nigeria were a huge team of intimidating athletes, with no lack of skill. Their team was absolutely pumped and keen to bring footy glory to their country. Argentina were on the ropes.
Anyone who knows footy knows that Argentina is one of the mentally toughest and most physically resiliant teams in the world. I love the way they play because they combine European speed and toughness with South American flair and skill. They are not afraid to play the “street game” but can also produce sublime moments. This is what happened as Maradona and Cannegia brought back their game and turned the tables back on Nigeria. Diego was brilliant, dancing around the Nigerian defence and setting up Cannegia’s goals to put Argentina 2-1 up by halftime. They went on to win the match by the same score.
Sadly for the USA World Cup and for football, Maradona was pumped up with illegal stimulants, and was booted out of the World Cup, never to be seen on the world stage again. I was shattered because I loved to watch the wee man play. When he was on the pitch you were likely to see a few sublime moments. What made it remarkable was that he was always marked by at least 2 men who would punish him cruelly every time he touched the ball.
He deserved to get kicked out of the World Cup, but how we missed Diego… Argentina were like zombies without their inspiration, and did not last long in the cup, getting knocked out in the next match. If Diego was clean, how far would they have gone?