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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Diego Maradona offers to coach Argentina 'for free'

  • Argentine legend makes offer following team's last-16 World Cup exit
  • Managed team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa
  • Maradona was in May appointed as chairman of Belarusian club Dynamo Brest
Diego Maradona blows kisses to the crowd during Argentina's last-16 match at the 2018 World Cup against France. Argentina lost the match 4-3. EPA
Diego Maradona blows kisses to the crowd during Argentina's last-16 match at the 2018 World Cup against France. Argentina lost the match 4-3. EPA

Argentine great Diego Maradona has made an extraordinary offer to coach his country for free, eight years after his last attempt ended in World Cup failure.

Maradona, who watched his side eliminated 4-3 by France last weekend in Kazan, was asked if he fancied another shot at the job – even though current manager Jorge Sampaoli has a contract until 2022.

"Yes, and I would do it for free," Maradona said on a Venezuelan TV show. "I wouldn't ask for anything in return."

The former Boca Juniors and Napoli player managed Argentina at the 2010 World Cup, where his team were beaten 4-0 by Germany at the quarter-final stage. He tactics and team selection were heavily criticised for failing to get the best out of a talented Argentina squad including star player Lionel Messi, who failed to register a goal in South Africa eight years ago.

Since then, the player who guided Argentina to their last World Cup win in 1986, has only coached two club sides: Al Wasl and Fujairah in the UAE.

Both of those stints were relatively brief - 13 months at Wasl, 12 months at Fujairah - and ended acrimoniously, with Maradona departing the latter in April after failing to gain promotion to the Arabian Gulf League.

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He is still one of the most controversial faces in football, and he hit the headlines in Russia for his colourful appearances at Argentina games.

Never a stranger to extremes, Maradona produced some of this World Cup's lasting images - celebrating victories in memorable poses, gesticulating toward opposition fans, and being helped into a hospitality box to be seen by paramedics after suffering from low blood pressure, though Maradona later disputed this, saying he instead was suffering from pain in his neck.

Maradona's offer comes with Sampaoli's employment with the Argentina Football Association likely to come to an end following a disappointing World Cup campaign.

It was reported he was at odds with several senior players in his squad, including captain Messi, Sampaoli is expected to be sacked after just a year in charge, even though there are another four years to run on his contract.

One potential complication for Maradona, though, could be a clash with his current employers. Maradona, 57, was in May appointed as chairman of Belarusian club Dynamo Brest following a season in UAE club football management.

The Argentine left Fujairah on April 27 after failing to guide the UAE second-tier side to automatic promotion to the AGL. Fujairah eventually clinched a place in the top flight by overcoming Hatta in a play-off.

Maradona was linked initially with a return to the Fujairah hot-seat in a frenzied few days following his departure, but the club ended talks after claiming Maradona had asked for four times his original salary to return to the east coast club. Brest, who finished eighth in last season’s Belarusian Premier League, have given him a contract through to 2021.

"People think I am happy but my heart is heavy," Maradona said about Argentina's elimination. "I feel really bad that everything we built with so much effort we destroyed so easily."