The world’s clock has ticked down to the start of the FIFA World Cup 2010 this June 11 in South Africa and heating up the conversation is Mario Alberto “El Matador” Kempes, forward for the 1978 champion team from Argentina. He scored six goals – the maximum – during the 64-game tournament. Here are a few questions with the soccer legend.
Q: Will Lionel Messi shine in the World Cup with Argentina as he does with FC Barcelona in Spain?
A: Messi is a great player and the conditions are right, but he alone will not solve everything. Argentina cannot depend on Messi. He moves well on the field and they have to create space for him. That’s the coach’s function. Argentina has good players but they have to be a team.
Q: What’s your opinion of the questions regarding Diego Armando Maradona’s work as the coach of the “white and blue”?
A: Maradona has not had a lot of time to work and he’s had just one month to train his players before the Cup. As a coach of a championship team he’s responsible and must find a way.
Q: What can you tell me about the controversial declarations of Pelé, who said that Messi – to be considered the best in the world – should first score a thousand goals as the Brazilian star did in his heyday?
A: (Shrugging off the answer) You can’t be the best in the world only because you score goals, you have to look at other things as well. Pelé happened; he’s history, he led, but now it’s another moment. At Messi’ age, 22, he’s accomplished more than Pelé and Maradona.
Kempes also referred to the future of Mexico in this World Cup.
“Its Group [A] is not easy because you have former champions Uruguay and France – a team not doing so well – and the local team South Africa, which could be the big surprise since they play the first match of the Cup. I can’t say they’ll move on easily but they will along with Uruguay,” he said.