South Korea presently lead the group ahead of Argentina, on goal difference, though Maradona’s men will have a chance to top the group after this encounter.
The 35-year old veteran of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups strained his right calf muscle, and Maradona wants to rest him rather than risk aggravating his injury.
“It’s hard to leave Seba (Veron) out but there are also risks playing him. I don’t want the World Cup to end for him, I need him. He understood it was the best thing for the squad,” Maradona said.
“If we were to lose Veron tomorrow the squad would no longer be the squad. We’ll give Veron a rest and hope he comes back against Greece,” he said at Loftus Versfeld stadium, close to Argentina’s University of Pretoria training base.
Veron, who played in central midfield with Javier Mascherano in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Nigeria, will be replaced by Maxi Rodriguez, who came on as his substitute for the last quarter of an hour of the Ellis Park match.
This will leave Mascherano alone in the middle but striker Carlos Tevez, a tireless runner, can help out dropping deep, Maradona said.
“You can’t give Carlitos a fixed position because he surprises you backing up, throwing himself to the ground (to tackle),” he said.
Veron, known as La Brujita, or Little Witch, (after his father was known as La Bruja, The Witch), missed the 2006 FIFA World Cup after being ommitted by the then Argentina coach Jose Pekerman.
South Korea will look to organize a strong defensive lineup, facing the prospect of playing against Messi, Gonzalez and Tevez. They might revert to a tactical approach rather than a direct one, and might try to hit Argentina on the break. Argentina, who didn’t have a very great first game, will look to make amends this time.
As for Veron, who has been my footballing icon since ’97, and after whom my friends nicknamed me on the football field, I wish him a speedy recovery and an excellent World Cup.