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Maradona launches stinging attack on Pele and Platini

By Rex Gowar

PRETORIA (Reuters) - Diego Maradona launched an extraordinary attack on fellow football greats Pele and Michel Platini on Wednesday as he predicted he could steer Argentina to a third World Cup triumph.

"Pele should go back to the museum," Maradona said about recent criticism from the Brazilian great about his coaching ability.

"We all know what the French are like and Platini as a Frenchman thinks he knows it all," Maradona added after the UEFA President said Maradona was not a good coach as a player.

"I feel capable of passing on to the players what I experienced as a footballer," he told a news conference.

"I want to be (world) champion and I have Messi, backed by a great team," Maradona said, adding that no other player in the tournament so far had come "within 40 percent" of Messi.

"We have spectacular players who are not playing but who are behind, waiting for their chance," he said of Argentina's strength in depth.

Maradona dominated the 1986 finals which Argentina won in Mexico like no other single player has done before or since at the World Cup and Argentines hope for a repeat from Messi.

'STRONG COLLECTIVE'

Argentina face South Korea, the country they beat in their opening match in Mexico 24 years ago, at Soccer City outside Johannesburg on Thursday.

"Korea don't have a Messi, they're a very strong collective block, they're fast, they have a good team," he told a news conference.

"They're to be respected but we're going out to win that match. We don't know how to speculate with a result," he added to a packed room far too small for the media interest he generates.

Maradona was told that the Koreans would use tactical fouls to try to control Messi who created a string of chances against Nigeria that turned their goalkeeper into the man of the match.

"A tactical foul is an asset and depending on what the referee sees he must show a yellow or red card," said Maradona, who had asked before Argentina's opening 1-0 win over Nigeria, for FIFA to make their Fair Play slogan count.

"We have to play our football calmly and let the referee do the rest."

South Korea lead the group on goal difference from Argentina after beating Greece 2-0 on Saturday.

(Editing by Jon Bramley)