PARIS (AFP) - Diego Maradona, Carlos Quieroz and George Burley were rarely spoken of in the same breath as players, but they are all now united by fear of World Cup failure as coaches. Maradona may enjoy the lingering status of national hero in Argentina, having memorably led the 'albiceleste' to glory on the pitch in 1986. As coach, however, the road has been a bumpy one in the 11 months since he succeeded Alfio Basile, thanks above all to a 6-1 hiding away to makeweights Bolivia but also a June loss in Ecuador which left Maradona's men in the fourth and final qualifying place in South America. After an initial bolstering of national sentiment on Maradona's arrival, the Argentinians have actualy slipped below the third place in which they sat when predecessor Basile quit in the wake of a loss to Chile. Fast forward four matches and the two-times champions are five points behind the Brazilians, four adrift of Chile, two behind Paraguay and only two clear of Ecuador. And if Queiroz and Burley think their situation is precarious with Portugal and Scotland, Maradona could be forgiven for worrying as his team next face Brazil on Saturday. Should the Brazilians win in Rosario, Argentina could face a humiliating failure to reach the finals in South Africa. "I've been thinking about this game for some time - I'd like so much to be out there myself playing," Maradona admitted. Star man Lionel Messi, whom Maradona has long anointed as his on-pitch heir, insists the hosts will not be found wanting. "We know it will be a tough game - they have great players. But so do we, so we can definitely win it. We know what is at stake." If history is on Maradona's side - Argentina have not failed to qualify since 1970 - the burden of expectation weighs no less heavy on fellow under-pressure coaches Queiroz and Burley, while France's Raymond Domenech's future is by no means clear. Portugal have enjoyed a relative purple patch in recent years with their run to the final of Euro 2004 on home soil and the World Cup semis two years later, but the 2010 team are struggling and that could mean curtains for former Real Madrid coach and ex-Manchester United assistant boss Queiroz. With four games to go the "Seleccao" are seven points adrift of group leaders Denmark with just four games to go with only the group winners guaranteed a place in the finals. Before the Portuguese think of wielding the axe they may reflect that the Danes have come back to form under Morten Olsen, a man the Scandinavians have stuck with through thick and thin for nine years. Star man Cristiano Ronaldo admits that the Portuguese "are really feeling the pressure. That's normal given what is at stake - but Portugal will be at the World Cup," the Real Madrid man told AS sports daily in Spain. Burley's Scotland, once regular participants but who last reached the finals in 1998, are struggling and take on Macedonia hoping to stay in sight of a potential play-off place as Holland have already run away with their group. Criticism rained down on Burley after last month's 4-0 pasting in Norway which left the Scots third behind the Macedonians on goal difference. Burley's assistant Terry Butcher, who captained England to a 1990 World Cup semi-final, defended the coach on Thursday. "I'm gutted for George in terms of the criticism. He lives for football, sees it the way he wants and disregards everything else. He just focuses on the job." But anything less than three points and the job may not be there much longer. The possibility of a change of employment also hangs over French handler Domenech as Les Bleus host Romania needing a win to stay on the tails of leaders Serbia, whom they trail by five points - albeit with a game in hand. French fans booed the side following a February home friendly loss to Maradona's Argentina and sports daily L'Equipe says supporters have "fallen out of love" with their team. "It's a national principle," scoffed Domenech regarding the booing. "One or several idiots start shouting out insults and the rest do the same without knowing why." Domenech insists that "I have an affinity with the players," and shrugs off his public persona of a man who has to bear adversity and approbrium on his shoulders. "If people chucked things at me, then I would start to ask myself some questions, though when I take the metro I'm not attacked..."