By John Egbokhna
Nigeriaâ€™s nemesis at the Beijing Olympics Games, Angel Di Maria of Argentina, is spoiling for war against the Super Eagles, when both continental soccer giants clash in a World Cup Group B match on June 12.
Di Maria, who scored the goal that clinched the gold medal for the Argentines during the final match against Nigeriaâ€™s Dream Team, led by coach Samson Siasia, told Radio Punta, an Argentine station,Â that he was tickled by the prospects of playing his first World Cup after fearing he would miss out on a place in Diego Maradonaâ€™s squad.
TheÂ 22-year-old Benfica winger, who has producedÂ series of sparkling performances in recent months and is regarded as one of the most exciting young players on the planet, is one of the 11 players Maradona has already penciled down for a starting role against Nigeria.
â€œThis was one of my objectives for the year and honestly there were times when I believed I would be out after my red card against Bolivia,â€ Di Maria said, in reference to the early part of his international career, whichÂ has not gone entirely to plan after being sent off in the humiliating 6-1 defeat to Bolivia last year.
Argentina have such strength in depth and Maradona has been so inconsistent with his selection policy that Di Maria has been sweating on whether he would be on the plane to South Africa.
â€œDiego followsÂ me with confidence and that has given me motivation throughout my professional career.
In the last few months I have matured as a footballer and now I play withÂ more sense on the field. To be at the 2010 World Cup is a dream fulfilled for me and now I will accept the orders of Maradona for any work.
â€œMy challenge is to get in the team and also to help the squad. I want to help the team win the first match against Nigeria. A good start at the World Cup begins with winning your first match and I feel we have the players to win the opening match. I hope the players will not arrive at this World Cup fatigued from the seasonâ€,