Although the Argentina players under the command of Jose Luis Brown were not even born when the Final of the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico™ took place, they all know the decisive contribution their coach made that day.

As well as scoring the opening goal, the man they call El Tata turned in a commanding performance at the heart of the Albiceleste defence to deny West Germany in a thrilling match. And such is the importance of that encounter in Argentinian footballing history, that there is not a single player in Brown's squad who cannot recount the events of that game from start to finish.

As fate would have it, the former stopper has the chance to deny the Germans once more when the two nations meet on Tuesday in Group A of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009. The tantalising match-up gave the perfect opportunity to quiz Brown on that memorable day at the Estadio Azteca and to gauge his views on the upcoming showdown in Abuja.

"People talk to me a lot about that match, about my goal and my injury, and everyone knows it was against Germany," begins Brown, casting his mind back over two decades. "Personally all I want to remember is that I scored a goal in a World Cup Final, which is the most important thing that can ever happen to a footballer."

Performances and results
Though he still cherishes that day, the ex-international is reluctant to use it to motivate his players ahead of the meeting with the European champions. "The fact that we're playing Germany doesn't mean to say I'm going to be changing my message to the players," he explains. "No matter who we play I always tell them to give their all, right down to the last drop of sweat."

"Winning is what counts of course. But if you can win and play well that makes your performance even better and also shows respect for your opponent. To my mind, if you play your very best football against every team, no matter how big or small they are, then you've shown them your respect."

Given Germany's status in world football, there is little danger of Argentina disrespecting them. "Some teams go into tournaments without worrying about who they get in the draw," continues Brown, who turned out for Estudiantes in his club career and made 36 appearances for his country. "Germany are one of those sides. It doesn't matter which group they're in or who they're drawn against; the only thing on their mind is winning. Argentina are in that category too, though."

The weight of experience
The South Americans have travelled to Nigeria intent on winning the one international trophy that continues to elude them. And to help them achieve that goal, Brown is drawing on all his experience and that of his assistants Sergio Batista and Julio Olarticoechea, two of his team-mates on that sunlit Mexican afternoon 23 years ago.

Wisely, the young Argentinians, who kicked off with a win over Honduras, are soaking up all the information they receive from the learned coaching trio, as Brown confirms. "They know that we've been through what they're experiencing right now, and that makes them even more receptive to what we're saying. They think that if they follow our advice, they can achieve what we did."

Anxious not to leave anything to chance, Brown and his right-hand men are trying to make sure their charges are ready for the mental rigours of a major competition. "We have to teach them how to handle the difficult moments. It can be overwhelming to hear your national anthem for the first time or to come out of the tunnel and play in front of big crowds. I don't want it to be a shock for them.

"You don't often get the chance to play in a World Cup and I want them to make the most of it, even if they have to suffer a little to get there. The fact is, though, that they chose football and that's the way the game is. They have to go through some tough times to enjoy all the good things that come with it."

One of those good things could be a place in the final on 15 November. Before they can start to think about that, however, the Argentinians must first negotiate Tuesday's awkward hurdle.

"The Germans are well organised, intelligent, quick and are always looking to find space," warns Brown. "It's going to be a very tough game, but a good one to watch too. And the fact that they drew with Nigeria means they're going to be even more motivated. They're a good side and we respect them, but fear doesn't come into it." Ask the Germans if they fear the former No 5, however, and they might just give you a different answer.