In June, the world will focus its attention on Argentina as 16 top footballing nations do battle to decide who will become the new world champions.
In June, the world will focus its attention on Argentina as 16 top footballing nations do battle to decide who will become the new world champions. The hosts believe they can win the World Cup and Argentina's squad is already in serious training.
SYNOPSIS: Nations that host the World Cup finals have a reputation for doing well. Many of them have battled through to win the Cup -- and the fanatical fans of Argentina will not settle for less. Nothing could be worse than failure at home.
To the rest of the world Argentina have something else to prove as well as their ability to succeed. Although they went to Munich and did well in the 1974 World Cup, the Europeans have not forgotten the image Argentina earned 12 years ago, when the tournament was played in England. Their fierce physical play and eventual walk-off against England left them with a terrible reputation. Now the spotlight on them, they have a fresh chance to put that right and prove their skill.
Manager Cesar Luis Menotti says he wants victory by strategy and skill -- not speed and strength alone.
They have hard working players. Midfield star Osvaldo Ardilles impressed European managers who saw last summer's South American tour. He has strength in the tackle and passes with a keen perception.
But the most exciting play comes from forwards like Rene Housseman, a hero among the children of Buenos Aires' poor quarters where he learnt his skills. Although only 24, he has already played in one World Cup, where he dazzled defences with his wing play.
Caplin Daniel Passarella feels Argentina's strength lies in the fact that many of the players have been training and playing together for over three years.
A talented and consistent goalkeeper, Uvaldo Fillol looks certain to be Argentina's last line of defence in June.
Some of the other stars including striker Mario Kempes, powerful defender Daniel Bertoni and forward Leopoldo Luque. As host, Argentina have not had to play in a qualifying group to reach the finals, but they have played friendly matches against several of the other teams who will compete for the World Cup -- and done well. Argentina are in what many consider to be the toughest group in the finals with Hungary, France and the Italians. Manager Menotti and the team have no illusions of the challenge ahead of them -- but feel confident Argentina has a chance to win.