Our World Cup has started, says hopeful Maradona

Argentina coach Maradona (AFP file)

BUENOS AIRES, May 20, 2010 (AFP) - Argentina coach Maradona held his first training session with his World Cup squad on Thursday, and said he had high hopes for the June 11-July 11 tournament in South Africa.

"Our World Cup starts today because we start work with 17 players. We have high hopes," said Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986.

Maradona was without five players for his first trip onto the paddock with his South Africa-bound squad.

Sergio Aguero played in Wednesday's King's Cup in Spain for his club Atletico Madrid, while Inter Milan duo Walter Samuel and Diego Milito, and Bayern Munich's Martin Demichelis were all in Madrid ahead of Saturday's Champions League final.

Clemente Rodriguez and Juan Sebastian Veron were to play for Estudiantes later Thursday.

Two-time champions Argentina were drawn alongside Nigeria, Euro 2004 champions Greece and 2002 semi-finalists South Korea in Group B and begin their campaign against the African side on June 12.

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