x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Al Wasl boys take to the beach in the absence of Maradona

Fitness coach Flamentigan makes the Dubai outfit sweat it out indoors while they await the arrival of their manager.

The Al Wasl team went through conditioning, ball drills and a friendly football match on sand last night.
The Al Wasl team went through conditioning, ball drills and a friendly football match on sand last night.

DUBAI // It was once said of Diego Maradona when he was in his glorious prime that he could dribble around opponents even if he had a beach ball at his feet.

So it was perhaps fitting that one of Al Wasl's last training sessions, before the Dubai club's new coach arrives, took place on a sand pitch — an indoor sand pitch to be precise.

The Al Wasl players were last night working on their final preparations before Maradona makes his long-awaited return to the UAE and one of the most talked about football appointments of the year can begin working with his new squad.

Under the watchful eye of Javier Flamentigan, the fitness coach who also worked for Maradona with the Argentina national team, the players were made to sweat in the Dubai Sports World complex at the World Trade Centre.

The coaching staff ignored the full-sized pitch and, instead, opted to train for two hours on the beach football pitches and volleyball courts.

Maradona is due to catch a flight from Buenos Aires to Dubai today and will get to work straight away with his squad when he does land within the next 48 hours.

From now on training will either take place first thing in the morning and late at night because of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Last night's session included new signings Juan Manuel Olivera, the Uruguayan striker, and Edson Puch, the Chile midfielder.

Flamentigan's drills were all about players keeping the ball off the ground with their feet, thighs, chest and head and the Wasl players showed off some skills that even a certain Argentine would have been proud of.

The most popular exercise, however, was when they moved to the three volleyball courts for a few games.

The final 45 minutes saw the squad split into three teams for 15 minute eight-aside matches.

Olivera, 29, displayed glimpses of why he twice finished as the top scorer in the Argentine Premier League in successive seasons, while Puch showed his new teammates he is ready to take on the roll of midfield enforcer with some snappy challenges.



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