The world will on Thursday mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Diego Maradona, regarded by some as the best player of all time and a man adored in his home country Argentina despite, or perhaps because of, his human flaws.
Argentine club matches are to mark a minute of silence and players will arrange themselves in a “10” formation on the pitch to honor Maradona’s famous jersey number, while special masses will be held — including in the Buenos Aires slum where Maradona grew up, to mark the day he passed away.
In Naples, where he spent part of his career, two statues for the striker are set to be unveiled.
“We’ll miss you for the rest of our lives,” said the Argentine Football League in homage on the eve of the anniversary, with a video of the life, goals, and many trophies of the man nicknamed “Pibe de Oro” (Golden Kid).
Maradona died of a heart attack last November at the age of 60, weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.
The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star had battled cocaine and alcohol addictions for years, and was suffering from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died.
His death shocked fans around the world, and tens of thousands queued to file past his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires during three days of national mourning.
He may be dead, but in Argentina Maradona is everywhere.
From ubiquitous mural frescos that portray him as a deity to television series about his life and even a religion bearing his name.
His two goals in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, which saw Argentina triumph over England just four years after the Falklands War, made Maradona an instant hero.
‘Hand of God’
His rags-to-riches story, stellar sporting achievements, complicated life and dramatic death entrenched his place in the Argentine psyche.
In the cities, Maradona’s name is memorialized in countless graffiti: “Diego lives,” “10 Eternal” and “D10S” — a play of words with the Spanish word for god, “Dios”, and Maradona’s famous jersey number.
Murals in Buenos Aires depict him with angel wings, as a patron saint complete with halo and scepter, or back here on Earth, kissing the World Cup.
Maradona is perhaps remembered as much for his “Hand of God” goal — which illegally came off his hand in what he ascribed to supernatural intervention — as for his second in the same match against England which would later become known as the “Goal of the Century”.
These extremes — “a virtuous goal and a sinful goal” that also reflected Maradona’s conflicted life of virtue and vice — help explain people’s fascination him, according to Latin American columnist Eduardo Galeano.
The “Hand of God” goal, he said, transformed Maradona “into a sort of tarnished God; the most human of Gods”.
For historian Felipe Pigna, Maradona is “a hero with many imperfections” — a mixed bag of qualities that reflects “what it means to be Argentinian”.
|A man passes by a mural of late Argentine fooball star Diego Maradona, painted by artist Jony on a wall in Villa Ballester, Argentina, on November 11, 2021. Photo: AFP|
‘Creator of happiness’
An investigation into the star’s death was opened following a complaint filed by two of Maradona’s five children against neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, whom they blame for their father’s deteriorating condition after surgery.
A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina’s public prosecutor concluded in April that Maradona’s treatment was rife with “deficiencies and irregularities” and said his medical team had left his survival “to fate”.
The case is closely followed by a nation transfixed, competing for headline space with the court case of an inheritance dispute involving two of Maradona’s daughters.
Adding to the floor-to-floor news coverage, this week, a Cuban woman who had an affair with Maradona as a minor 20 years ago, accused him and his entourage of abuse, including rape.
Maradona’s second daughter Dalma, 34, has said she will not participate in any of the commemoration events Thursday for what she described as “the worst day of my life”.
“A year after his death, Diego, a creator of happiness, continues also to cause suffering,” the Argentine daily La Nacion said this week.
“Through the sadness over his death, because we loved him so much. And through the evidence of his self-destruction. The great contradiction between public happiness and private suffering.”
Việt Nam struggle to win over minnows Laos in AFF Cup opener
Anh Đức & Peter Cowan
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam began their defence of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup with a stuttering 2-0 win against Laos in Singapore on Monday night.
The tournament, delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is a chance for coach Park Hang-seo’s men to return to winning ways after a difficult World Cup campaign, but if they are to go all the way and win it again, they will have to improve on the performance in Bishan Stadium.
Minnows Laos struggled to lay a glove on Việt Nam but battled for the entire 90 minutes and can be proud of a commendable performance.
Việt Nam started without key players Nguyễn Quang Hải and Quế Ngọc Hải, an indication perhaps of how Park anticipated the game unfolding.
Laos gave a first cap to naturalised striker Billy Ketkeophomphone, but the French Ligue 2 player was isolated up front and struggled to make an impact in the early exchanges.
Việt Nam dominated the ball in the first half but were made to wait until the 27th minute for the opening goal.
Midfielder Nguyễn Hoàng Đức played in Nguyễn Phong Hồng Duy with a delightful ball down the left, allowing the fullback to square the ball across the box. Nguyễn Công Phượng was on hand to sweep the ball home.
Despite having the lion’s share of the ball, Việt Nam were unable to create a second clear-cut opening in the opening period.
In the second half, it was more of the same with Việt Nam camped in the Laos half.
The Vietnamese made the game safe nine minutes into the second half, as Phan Văn Đức headed from an accurate cross from Hồ Tấn Tài.
While the two-goal lead ensure Việt Nam would be leaving with all three points, they struggled to create decent chances to put a gloss on the game.
Indeed Laos almost pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute through Ketkeophomphone when the striker went through on goal, but goalkeeper Trần Nguyên Mạnh was equal to the effort.
Việt Nam immediately broke on the counter and won a penalty when Vũ Văn Thanh’s shot his Chitpasong Latthachack’s hand.
Thanh stepped up to take the spot kick, but his tame effort was easily saved by goalkeeper Keo-Oudone Souvannasangso.
The match petered out from there, with the Lao players dead on their feet and Việt Nam unable to make another breakthrough.
Park’s men will next face Malaysia on Sunday and if they are to come away with a second win, a better performance will be needed.
Vietnam’s Kim Duyen stands out at Miss Universe 2021 pageant
Nguyen Huynh Kim Duyen, the runner-up at the Miss Universe Vietnam 2019, is now in the resort city of Eliat (Israel) for the Miss Universe 2021 pageant.
During her first days in Israel, Kim Duyen visited tourist and cultural sites in Israel and participated in events held by the organizing boards.
The pageant has attracted representatives from 77 countries and territories. The final night is scheduled on December 12.
Originally hailing from the Mekong Delta City of Can Tho, Kim Duyen won the first runner-up title during Miss Universe Vietnam 2019.
Duyen stands at 1.73 meters tall and measures 83-62-89. She is widely viewed as an outstanding person who regularly participates in charitable campaigns throughout Vietnam, including health care for people with HIV/AIDS, support for LGBTQ+ rights, and assistance to poor children attending school.
The 2020 global competition was postponed to May this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nguyen Tran Khanh Van, who was crowned Miss Universe Vietnam 2019, presented Vietnam at the event in Florida in the US, and was named among the Top 21 for receiving the highest number of votes from fans. The Miss Universe Vietnam contest began in 2008 and is organized every two years.
The audience can vote for Kim Duyen on the official website and the Miss Universe site.
Below are the first pictures of Kim Duyen in Israel:
AFF Cup live blog: Việt Nam-Laos
Việt Nam begin their AFF Cup defence with a cross-border derby against Laos. The match in Singapore kicks off at 7.30pm and you can follow along here so you don’t miss a kick!
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