x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Diego Maradona's contract terminated by Al Wasl

No reasons given as the Dubai club announce the decision after conflicting reports over the last few weeks.

Maradona failed to bring any silverware to Al Wasl in the last season since taking over.
Maradona failed to bring any silverware to Al Wasl in the last season since taking over.

DUBAI // Al Wasl have fired their coach Diego Maradona midway through the Argentine legend’s two-year contract.

The Dubai club announced their decision late tonight following a meeting of their board of directors, reversing their earlier decision to continue with the services of Maradona for the next season.

“Following a meeting of the board of directors of Al Wasl Fooball Company (AWFC) held today, to evaluate the technical staff of Al Wasl Football Team under the leadership of coach Diego Maradona, it was decided to terminate the services of coach Diego Maradona and his technical staff,” the club said in a statement last night without giving further details.

Rumours of Maradona’s imminent departure have been doing the rounds since the end of last season. Following a disappointing, the AWFC board of directors had tendered their resignation and the Argentine legend was expected to be shown the door as well.

However, after the first meeting of the new board of directors on June 17, Dr Mohammed Ahmad bin Fahad, the chairman, had denied any plans to sack their coach.

“Maradona is the head coach of the Al Wasl team and he will continue for the next season,” Bin Fahad had said after that meeting. “He will have complete authority over the programme for the next season. There is no change in his position.”

On the same day, tweets from Sky News Arabia and Sharjah Sports TV, citing club sources, had claimed the Argentine legend has been shown the door by the new management of Wasl.

A couple of days earlier, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the president of the club, had expressed his disappointment with Maradona’s reign in an with Dubai Sports TV.

The Dubai club finished the season without any silverware, failing to win even the GCC Champions League despite a 3-1 win in the first leg of the final against Al Muharraq in Bahrain.

They were eighth in the Pro League, 29 points behind the champions Al Ain, and failed to reach beyond the second round of the President’s Cup. In the Etisalat Cup, Maradona’s team were knocked out in the semis by eventual champions Al Ahli.

During his troubled tenure, Maradona threatened to quit if he was not allocated more budget and players to get the job done.

“The results of last season were well below our expectations after we failed to win any domestic title and finished eighth in the Pro League,” Sheikh Ahmed had said. “We also lost the GCC title when it was in our grasps.

“Such results do not fit with the reputation of our club. Even in my dreams I did not expect them to finish eighth in the league. I had hoped they would at least finish among the top four. Our fans do not deserve this. I was really saddened to see them after the GCC final.

“I think Maradona was unsuccessful with Al Wasl and I do not know the reasons for it. The new administration will now determine the fate of Maradona for next season.”

arizvi@thenational.ae

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