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Diego Maradona is all smiles after easing his way into the Argentina coaching role with a 1-0 win against Scotland.
Diego Maradona is all smiles after easing his way into the Argentina coaching role with a 1-0 win against Scotland.
Diego Maradona is all smiles after easing his way into the Argentina coaching role with a 1-0 win against Scotland.

Maradona enjoys Hampden again

Good things continue to happen to the much-feted Diego Maradona in Glasgow.

GLASGOW // Good things continue to happen to the much-feted Diego Maradona in Glasgow. He won his first match as the Argentina manager in this industrial city on Wednesday evening and an industrious home side, despite some general stodginess, failed to register a goal for the first time against the South American country. In digesting a 1-0 outcome, it was always likely that this soaked town would not rain on Maradona's parade. It was Hampden Park that provided him with his first goal for Argentina a 3-1 win in 1979. The country's national stadium remains generous in its ability to sprinkle gold dust upon Maradona, a figure seeminglyreinvigorated and relocated in his new guise. Avoiding the sober suits of management, Maradona eased himself into a tracksuit as his multi-faceted side enjoy some uproarious moments. Despite sitting with his chin buried deep in thought and coming up for air momentarily, this was a highly pleasurable evening for the World Cup winner. This was especially true when Maxi Rodriguez finished off a delectable move for the winning goal on eight minutes involving all sorts, but mainly Javier Zanetti, Carlos Tevez and Jonas Gutiérrez. Scotland were far from downtrodden, but Argentina in full flow continue to be a stunning operation. They led the Scots a merry dance with their ability to keep the ball. At the end, Maradona punched the air and threw his arms around everything that moved. But not of course Terry Bucher, the illuminated Scotland assistant coach who cannot forgive him for the handball that helped to eliminate his England side from the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Mexico some 22 years ago. There was no Lionel Messi, no Juan Roman Riquelme, no Sergio Aguero and no real problems for Argentina. Not when when you have a player as cunning as Tevez in your midst. As a striker he is apparently going through some sort of crisis for his national side having not scored for Argentina in over a year. But his ability to sit deeper and find space gave Scotland many problems. The Atletico Madrid attacker Aguero returned to the Spanish capital on Tuesday to be with his partner Giannina, the 18-year-old daughter of Maradona, who had suffered complications in her pregnancy. "I was thinking of my daughter Giannina and her baby," said Maradona. "The lads have been a great support at a very difficult time for me. They wore the shirt with great pride." Argentina's 1978 World Cup winner Ossie Ardiles was in a state of disbelief that Maradona is looking so healthy. Despite inferior skills, Scotland hope chasing Argentina around will give them a sample of what Holland will provide in a World Cup qualifying fixture in Amsterdam in March. It is hard to imagine that Argentina had won only once in eight matches before entering Hampden. A 1-0 loss to Chile last month prompted Alfio Basile's resignation. At least an all-embracing Maradona is off and running, and off and winning. dkane@thenational.ae

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