PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — About 5,000 fans created a party atmosphere Sunday when Diego Maradona and Argentina's national team made their first public appearance since arriving in South Africa for the World Cup.
"Maradooo, Maradooo," the fans chanted as the Argentina coach walked out on the field at the University of Pretoria.
The squad was split in two for a training session, with the starters playing to a 3-3 draw with the substitutes in a 35-minute match. Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel di Maria scored for starters, while Ariel Garce, Diego Milito and Mario Bolatti scored for the subs.
With Argentine flags waving in the crowd, along with many South African flags, the 1986 World Cup-winning captain was serenaded with chants of "Ole, Ole, Ole, Die-go, Die-go."
The fans also shouted for Lionel Messi, the Barcelona forward who was the 2009 world player of the year.
One Mozambican, 18-year-old Jacinto, said he came to Pretoria only to see Messi.
"Messi is a wonder," Jacinto said, wearing a Barcelona shirt with the No. 10 on the back. "He came from heaven to play football."
During the practice, Maradona stood by and watched, offering little advice to the players but at times yelling, "Good. Go Tiger," or "Good, good. Let's go, let's go."
Outside the stadium, about 500 people were shut out of the session.
"It doesn't matter that I couldn't get in," said Augusto, a 30-year-old fan who would only give his first name. "I spent almost $6,000 to be here, lost my fiancee and I am about to lose my job."
At the World Cup, Argentina will play Greece, Nigeria and South Korea in Group B.