x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Diego Maradona calls out officials after Al Ain defeat

Al Wasl coach says home side's victory was deserved, but believes his task is being hampered by the match officials.

Diego Maradona watches Al Ain v Al Wasl from the sidelines last night.
Diego Maradona watches Al Ain v Al Wasl from the sidelines last night.

AL AIN // Diego Maradona said fawning match officials had constricted his ability to do his job after his Al Wasl side lost out at Al Ain last night.

The former Argentina manager endured another sour evening at the Tahnoun Bin Mohammed Stadium, where he had already incurred the wrath of both the home fans and Cosmin Olaroiu, Al Ain's manager, this season.

This time it was the turn of the match officials to invoke his ire. Maradona had accused the Pro League referees of wanting to be "celebrities" in the build up to the match in Al Ain, and he was fuming with them again after it, too.

"It is quite difficult to manage a game when before the match, the fourth official comes to me, gives me all the praise in the world, tells me I am one of the best players in the world, tells me I am a legend, then as soon as the match starts tries to constrict my movement," he said.

"During the second half I was given instructions not to move out of my seat. It is quite difficult to manage my team and give instructions when I have been given that sort of order.

"The fourth official came to me in the changing room and told me I would not be able to move out of my seat, if I did so I would be dismissed to the stands. This is disturbing, and it is difficult to work under such circumstances."

A blockade of policemen and security officials had obstructed Maradona's path to the referee Hamad al Shaikh Hashmi after he blew for half time.

The Wasl manager was livid that he had not been allowed to air his view with the official.

"I wanted to tell the referee about a certain incident which happened in the first half, when Rashed Essa wanted to finish but didn't get a touch and it was a corner kick," Maradona said.

"I just wanted to bring that to his attention, but I was stopped by the police and shoved to the side. This is unacceptable.

"I just wanted to give my opinion about something, but I was treated as if I was an outsider. I have witnesses. My interpreter knew exactly what I wanted to say."

Asamoah Gyan, who played his best game since he started his season-long loan from Sunderland, and Ignacio Scocco, Maradona's Argentine compatriot, scored the goals for Al Ain in a 2-0 victory.

Victory, which Maradona acknowledged was well deserved for the home side, was another fillip for Olaroiu in his ongoing feud with his celebrated opposite number.

The Romanian made to the Wasl dug-out at the final whistle, but was given short-shrift by Maradona.

"We played a good quality of football and, as in other games, we showed fair play," the manager said.

"We put the ball out when our opponents [were injured]. That wasn't happening for us. We showed it is important to have character in football."