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Argentina Gives Manager Diego Maradona First World Cup Victory as Coach


Argentina's football team has given manager Diego Maradona his first World Cup victory as a coach with a 1-0 defeat of Nigeria in a Group-B opener in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Argentina's Gabriel Heinze's diving header in the sixth minute was the game's only goal Saturday at Ellis Park. The win puts Los Albicelestes in second place behind South Korea in the Group-B standings.

Despite the loss, fans around the world elected Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama as Man-of-the-Match.

The Super Eagles came very close to equalizing late in the game. A powerful blast off the foot of Taye Taiwo in the 70th minute missed by only centimeters, and eight minutes later Kalu Uche's high shot flew over the cross bar.

Argentina had its own problem finding the net, hitting it only once in 24 shots, while Nigeria missed on 11 scoring attempts.

Saturday's action in South Africa finishes with the first World Cup meeting in 60 years between the United States and England, who play their Group-C opener in Rustenburg.

Argentina and South Korea both earned three points in the Group-B standings with victories Saturday, but South Korea tops the four-team group because it scored two goals in its (2-0) win over Greece, while Argentina had one goal against Nigeria. The top two teams in each of eight four-team groups will advance to the knockout [single-elimination] phase of the finals.

Argentina coach Maradona has coached the national team since 2008, but has been plagued by doubts about his ability to lead the squad to the World Cup.

In his playing days, Maradona was an international superstar who helped lead Argentina to a World Cup victory in 1986. But suspensions and other troubles with drug abuse marred his career. His playing days ended in 1994 after he tested positive for a banned substance following an Argentina (2-1) win over Nigeria.

The 32-nation 2010 World Cup ends July 11 in Johannesburg.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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