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2010 IS TWO YEARS AWAY. Can you imagine the greatest players in the world will be gracing South Africa. One of them is Lionel Messi. The interview below was taken from a sports website. Thank you EB Kop End & ZK for the feed.

In 2006, you had your first taste of Fifa World Cup finals action. How important was that for you?
LM: Well, it was my first World Cup and I turned 19 there. It was a very interesting experience and it was my first major international tournament. It was wonderful to have the opportunity. On top of which I scored a goal. It was all a great experience, in spite of us not achieving what we wanted to.

Since then, you have become a key figure in the Argentine team. How much are you looking forward to 2010?
LM: We’ve got very high expectations for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. There are still some years to go, but I believe we are assembling a quality side ahead of that tournament. It’s one of the biggest objectives and challenges that await me.

You have already started on the road to South Africa 2010. How well equipped is the team for the challenge ahead?
LM: Qualifying is a lengthy process. There are still two years to go and that gives us plenty of time to improve and start forging the team that will take part in the World Cup. We’re currently second on the table and that gives us a certain amount of security and belief. But it’s a long competition and the most important thing is to seal a qualifying berth. I think our team is very well equipped and it’s going to get even stronger.

Argentina won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986, before you were born.
Is it time for Argentina to regain the title in 2010?
LM.Indeed, that’s one of my biggest goals and that’s why I work hard and try to give my best every day, to be able to achieve a feat like that. It would be wonderful to play a part in Argentina’s third World Cup win.

In 2010, the first World Cup will be played on African soil in South Africa. What are your expectations?
LM.I think it’s going to be lovely to play in South Africa. I think it’s a positive thing that the World Cup is held in different countries and continents, and that Europe and America don’t have a monopoly on hosting the competition.

What do you know about South African football?
LM:I don’t know much about South African football, apart from those players who have competed in European leagues. But my understanding is that it’s an up-and-coming sport and its profile is growing all the time. I unfortunately missed the trip when Barcelona visited South Africa last year. But from what I saw in the friendly match we played last season, their technical standard is quite high and I’m sure that the World Cup will help make football in South Africa stronger.

How important is a successful national team for the home country?
LM.I suppose that a good performance from the host team boosts the tournament’s popularity and makes it more successful, but it also boosts the host country. It is special to play on home soil.The World Cup is the stage where the biggest football stars, such as Pelé or Maradona, have been able to shine the most.

In Argentina and in many places in the world, people compare you to Diego Maradona. How do you feel about this?
LM.It’s an honour to be compared with Diego, but there’s only one Diego. What I would wish for is to be able to experience what Diego did with the Argentina national team. To achieve the same successes he achieved with the national side would be a dream come true for me.

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