x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Wasl expect Diego Maradona to arrive in UAE 'this week'

A club source said only the club chairman and the Argentine legend's agent know of his exact travel plans, while the Uruguayan striker Juan Manuel Olivera has completed his move to the Dubai club.

Diego Maradona’s arrival in Dubai to take charge of Al Wasl remains a mystery to all but a select few top officials at Al Wasl.
Diego Maradona’s arrival in Dubai to take charge of Al Wasl remains a mystery to all but a select few top officials at Al Wasl.

DUBAI // Diego Maradona's arrival at Al Wasl remained shrouded in secrecy yesterday, with only the top officials of the club knowing the Argentine legend’s travel plans.

Maradona is expected to arrive this week, most probably tomorrow, to start his two-year tenure as head coach at the club. Few of the club's officials, however, are aware of the exact date of his arrival.

"I would say only our chairman [Marwan bin Bayat] and Maradona’s agent would know about his exact travel plans," a club source said.

"We are expecting him to arrive this week, but the exact dates are known to only those two people, or a very select few.

"A public announcement will be made only after his arrival."

In a deal that shook the football world, Maradona was unveiled as Al Wasl’s new coach on June 4. In the ensuing days, he watched the club's final match of the last domestic league season and planned with his assistant, Ali Hassan, for the new campaign.

He then returned home to Argentina, where he had a busy summer. First, he was involved in a minor car accident after watching a game at the Copa America, where he was scouting for new signings. He also visited Hugo Chavez, the Venezuela president, who is undergoing treatment for cancer in Cuba.

Juan Manuel Olivera is one of the players that Maradona has picked to strengthen the side and he was officially announced as their third foreign player yesterday.

The Uruguayan arrived in the country last week to undergo his medical and has been training with the team since. The striker last played for Uruguay club Penarol, who reached the Copa Libertadores final in 2010.

Olivera was also a teammate of another new Wasl signing, Edson Puch. They played together at Universidad de Chile, where the Uruguayan topped the scoring charts in 2010.

"We are happy about signing Olivera, who is a strong player, and is expected to be a valuable addition to our striking force," said bin Bayat, the Al Wasl chairman.

"He has played for various teams and has always made an impact with his goal scoring abilities. Having experienced players like Olivera is definitely a benefit that will help us to achieve our objectives for next season."

Maradona is still looking for a fourth foreign player and Mariano Donda is emerging as one of the leading candidates to fill the void. The club, according to sources, have been asked by Maradona to begin official negotiations with Donda’s Argentine club, Godoy Cruz.

"We have full trust in Maradona’s decisions and he has our full support," bin Bayat said.

"We are very anxious to complete the squad and start competing in next season’s championship."

arizvi@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE