DOHA (Reuters) – Big names in Argentine football and thousands of World Cup fans paid tribute to Diego Maradona on Friday on the second anniversary of the soccer icon’s death.
Many choked the narrow lanes of Doha’s main market on the eve of Argentinathe unavoidable confrontation against Mexico, waving Maradona flags and chanting his name with that of current number 10 Lionel Messi. The police barricaded the entrances to Souq Waqif because of the numbers.
Argentina has barely recovered from Maradona’s death from a heart attack on November 25, 2020 at the age of 60 after years of drug and alcohol problems.

The Argentine has appeared in four World Cups, lifting the trophy in 1986 when he scored his ‘Hand of God’ goal against England. He was expelled from the 1994 tournament after failing a drug test.
The former teammates of that 1986 team — Claudio Ruggeri, Nery Pumpido, Jorge Burruchaga, Ricardo Giusti, Sergio Batista, Claudio Borghi, Carlos Tapia, Jorge Valdano and Hector Enrique — attended a tribute in a confederation fan zone South American (CONMEBOL) in Doha.
They were joined by members of the 1978 winning team – Ubaldo Fillol, Mario Kempes, Daniel Bertoni, Ricardo Villa, Omar Larrosa and Alberto Tarantini.
“Like the great masters of painting, he sketched until he completed his most marvelous work against England,” Valdano said, recalling Maradona’s superb second goal against England in the 1986 quarter-finals. .

Some fans shouted ‘Viva Diego’ as South American confederation president Alejandro Dominguez and FIFA chief Gianni Infantino both called Maradona ‘immortal’.
The FIFA president said he wants a ceremony for Maradona at every World Cup.
Kempes, an attacking midfielder for the 1978 side, praised Maradona as an “excellent” character.
“If you knew him you thought he would do one thing, but he would do the complete opposite, that’s genius,” the 68-year-old told reporters.

Many fans attended a Maradona FanFest at a hangar near Doha airport where there were memorabilia and a private jet painted with the footballer’s portrait.
A folk singer performed Argentinian pop songs that chronicled Maradona’s fame as well as his battle with cocaine and drink.
Argentinian fans also gathered on the Doha waterfront to unfurl flags in honor of Maradona.
Many hope he will pass his magic on Messi for Saturday’s group game against Mexico. Argentina – stunned by Saudi Arabia in their opener – must win to retain any realistic hope of reaching the second round.

“Diego is a god and you have to ask the gods for things and you have to thank them,” 23-year-old Santiago Corbetta said.
“So hopefully he helps us a bit now with the game against Mexico.”
“His death is something Argentina never got over,” said Daniel Luque, who unfurled a flag with Maradona’s portrait at the World Cup countdown on Friday morning.
“He was a player and a phenomenon. His troubles made him even more of a man of the people. If he had run for president, he would have won,” the 47-year-old added.



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