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Maradona talks of quitting

BUENOS AIRES, October 8- Under-pressure Argentina coach Diego Maradona has announced that he might quit after must-win World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Uruguay.MARADONA_"After the qualifiers, I will talk to (Argentine football federation chariman) Julio (Grondona)," Maradona told reporters Tuesday.

"I’ll see if I carry on, and it will be on my conditions," he said.

"When Julio offered me this job, I was the happiest man in the world, but since there have been things that I have not liked," Maradona said, without further explanation.

Relations between Maradona and general manager Carlos Bilardo, his coach for the 1986 World Cup triumph in Mexico, have become increasingly fraught ahead of Saturday’s match against lowly Peru, hence the hint he might walk away once the programme of matches is over.

He was appointed in November last year but recent poor form, including back-to-back losses at home to Brazil and in Paraguay, has left Argentina fifth in the regional standings.

That would only be enough to send them into the playoffs against the fourth-placed Central American zone team.

Argentina, World Cup champions in 1978 as well as 1986, last failed to make the finals in 1970.

Maradona is battling to find the right formula with morale having sagged following four losses in five games – including a 6-1 hiding in Bolivia.

Argentina face Peru in Buenos Aires on Saturday and travel to Montevideo four days later. Uruguay will have every incentive to win as they can still grab fourth spot in the group and an automatic finals berth.

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Without mentioning Bilardo, Maradona has implied that the general manager should have tried harder to persuade Manchester City to release Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta to join the squad early.

"Somebody should have gone over there and asked and brought them back," Maradona complained.

Compounding his frustration was the fact that Zabaleta picked up a hamstring injury in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa and so will be unavailable anyway.

Both he and Tevez said they felt they had an obligation to turn out for City in an important league match.

Meanwhile, the Peruvian Football Federation on Wednesday denied rumours in the media that their players had received cash to go out an make an extra effort to beat Argentina.

"I absolutely don’t believe it," said Federation president Manuel Burga.

"To give money to win or lose is to be condemned either way," he added.

Federation committee official Jose Antonio Rios also denied that Peru had received any incentive to beat Uruguay 1-0 in a recent encounter, that result keeping the Uruguayans behind Argentina.

"That is completely untrue. The only thing which motivates the players is to defend tooth to the end the Peruvian colours and that is what they will do against Argentina."

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On Tuesday, Pevuvian sports daily El Bocon had suggested the Peruvians had been offered a mysttery incentive.



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