x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Diego Maradona to be unveiled by Wasl tomorrow

Al Wasl fans will get an opportunity to see Diego Maradona, the new coach, when he attends the final league game of the season, against Sharjah.

Diego Maradona, who is set to meet Al Wasl's management to articulate his vision and discuss hiring his backroom staff, will also watch the club's last game of the season against Sharjah on Sunday.
Diego Maradona, who is set to meet Al Wasl's management to articulate his vision and discuss hiring his backroom staff, will also watch the club's last game of the season against Sharjah on Sunday.

DUBAI // Diego Maradona will be paraded before Al Wasl fans at the club's season-ending home game on Sunday, one day after the Argentine is formally introduced as the Pro League club's new coach.

Maradona, 50, is expected to arrive in Dubai today for an extended stay.

He will attend a press conference tomorrow morning to sign the two-year deal that was announced on May 17.

In the coming days, he will meet with club officials to discuss his vision for Wasl over the next two seasons.

With family members, Maradona will also take the opportunity to get acquainted with their new home.

Wasl fans will get an opportunity to see Maradona when he attends the final league game of the season, against Sharjah. The match will begin at 7.55pm.

"We are very happy that Mr Maradona will be here this weekend," said Ahmed Khalifa, the media spokesman for Wasl.

"The plan is for him to watch our game on Sunday, which will give him a flavour of the football in the UAE, and it will also be an opportunity for him to meet the players."

Khalifa said the club had received more than 100 media requests for the press conference, which will be televised.

"He is going to take this opportunity to look for a house, and I believe his family will be with him, as well, so they can get to know Dubai before moving here," Khalifa said. "My understanding is that he will not necessarily return to Argentina after a few days, as we expected at first, because there is a lot for us to discuss.

"We need to talk about a summer training camp, new signings and his backroom staff. So he may be in Dubai for some time."

Maradona is expected to return to Argentina before coming back to Dubai towards the end of July, when pre-season training will begin. Many UAE clubs go to Europe to prepare for the season.

Having lost out on the loan signing of the Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan, Wasl chairman Marwan bin Bayat hopes to have acquired at least one top-class striker, preferably from European football, in time for Maradona's return.

Wasl also have targeted a number of the more-experienced Emiratis at other Pro League clubs.

Khalifa and his staff have been working overtime since Maradona accepted Wasl's offer.

"Signing such a big name as Maradona means that every aspect of the club must improve and we all have to become more professional," he said.

"We have to be on the same level as our new coach, which is of course the highest level."

Maradona has been out of football since leaving his post as Argentina coach following the 2010 World Cup. He had led his national team since October 2008, guiding them through the final eight matches of World Cup qualifying and into the quarter-finals of South Africa 2010.

He has coached at club level only twice before, with Mandiyu de Corrientes in 1994 and a year later with Racing Club, both in Argentina. He did not coach a full season with either side.

ncameron@thenational.ae