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Bolivia delivers six blows to Maradona's heart
by Paul Kennedy, April 2nd, 2009 7AM

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[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING-ARGENTINA] Wonder why there's so much controversy about playing international matches at high altitude? Four days after Diego Maradona's Argentina looked like world beaters in a 4-0 victory over Venezuela, it traveled to La Paz, at almost 11,000 feet above sea level, and got hammered by Bolivia, 6-1. The irony: Maradona had backed Bolivia's campaign to get FIFA's ban on matches at high altitude lifted.

"Every Bolivia goal was a stab in my heart," Maradona said afterward. "If we had dreamed this was going to happen before the game, we would have thought it was impossible."

Joaquin Botero, who plays in the Mexican Second Division, had a hat trick, while Marcelo Martins, Didi Torrico and Brazilian-born Alex da Rosa also scored for Bolivia.

The loss was Argentina's worst since its 5-0 home loss to Colombia in 1993 and dropped it to fourth place in the South American standings only two points ahead of Uruguay.

The top four teams advance to the World Cup, while the fifth-place team meets the No. 4 Concacaf team in a playoff.

Results:
Venezuela 2 (Fedor 76, Arango 81) Colombia 0
Bolivia 6 (Martins 12, Botero pen. 34, 50, 66, Da Rosa 45, Torrico 87) Argentina 1 (Gonzalez 25)
Chile 0 Uruguay 0.
Brazil 3 (Luis Fabiano pen. 18, 27, Felipe Melo 64) Peru 0.
Ecuador 1 (Noboa 64) Paraguay 1 (Benitez 90+2).

Standings:
TEAM W T L GF GA P
Paraguay 7 3 2 19 9  24
Brazil 5 6 1 19 5 21
Chile 6 2 4 17 14 20
Argentina 5 4 3 18 13 19
Uruguay 4 5 3 21 10 17
Colombia 3 5 4 6  10 14
Ecuador 3 5 4 14 19 14
Venezuela 4 1 7 14 22 13
Bolivia 3 3 6 19 25 12
Peru 1 4 6 6  26 7

Australia's qualification on hold

[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING-ASIA] Australia moved to within one point of clinching a berth in the World Cup finals with a 2-0 win over Uzbekistan. South Korea took over the lead in Group B with a 1-0 victory over North Korea.

The Socceroos could have become the first team to qualify for South Africa 2010 if Bahrain and Qatar had played to a tie in the other Group A qualifier, but Bahrain won, 1-0.

"When I started 15 months ago," said Australia's Dutch coach Pim Verbeek, "people were in a panic about it being difficult qualifying for the World Cup through Asia. We have played five games -- 13 points, eight goals scored, zero against. Not too bad, eh?"

Group A
Australia 2 (Kennedy 66, Kewell pen. 73) Uzbekistan 0.
Bahrain 1 (Aaish 52) Qatar 0.
TEAM W T L GF GA P
Australia 4 1 0 8 0 13
Japan 3 2 0 8 3 11
Bahrain 2 1 3 5 6 7
Uzbekistan 1 1 4 5 8 4
Qatar 1 1 4 4 13 4

Group B
South Korea 1 (Kim Chi-Woo 88) North Korea 0.
Saudi Arabia 3 (Autef pen. 4, own goal 71, Hazazi 83) UAE 2 (Al-Shehhi 38, Matar 45+1).
TEAM W T L GF GA P
South Korea 3 2 0 9 3 11
North Korea 3 1 2 7 5 10
Saudi Arabia 3 1 2 8 8 10
Iran 1 3 1 6 6 6
UAE 0 1 5 6 14 1

 

 



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