Striker's dream Golden

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

From the moment Sergio Aguero and his Argentine teammates carefully laced up their hand-me-down cleats for the first time as young boys, they dreamed of one day being the next Diego Maradona.

Maradona, of course, is generally acknowledged as being the finest player ever produced by Argentina. You might even find the odd zealot in the robust watering holes of Buenos Aires who would argue that he is the greatest South American footballer of all-time, although the Brazilians would be quick to bring Pele's name up in such a debate.

In any event, Maradona's feats on the emerald pitch made him a legend back home among fans who still remember him hoisting the 1986 World Cup trophy in Mexico along with his Argentine teammates.

Long before that special occasion, Maradona first made the soccer world sit up and take notice of his special talents when he won the Golden Ball award as the top player at the 1979 Under-20 World Cup.

Twenty-eight years later, Aguero will be attempting to capture that same honour when his heavily favoured Argentine squad meets the Czech Republic in the title game of this year's U-20 tournament this afternoon at the National Soccer Stadium.

Entering the game tied for the tournament lead in goal scoring with five, Aguero is one of the favourites to win the Golden Ball. That would be the icing on the cake for the young striker, whose primary goal is to help defending champion Argentina capture its sixth U-20 crown.

"We are one step away from maintaining that tradition," said Argentine coach Hugo Tocalli, whose team is gunning for its fifth U-20 title in 12 years.

For Aguero, however, there is additional motivation. He admits he is "aspiring to" one day don the fabled powder blue and white stripes of the Argentine men's national team, a common goal among his teammates as well.

But success might not come as easily today as many are predicting.

Argentina will be without five regulars today, leaving Tocalli with a "different" team than the one that has been the class of the tournament.

Defender Matias Cahais and midfielder Claudio Yacob can not play because of yellow cards. Strikers Angel Di Maria and Mauro Zarate as well as midfielder Damian Escudero are injured.

For the Czechs, midfielder Petr Janda will sit out because of yellow cards.


Videos

Photos