x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Maradona blasts his boss after Dubai trip falls through

Diego Maradona aims a barrage of criticism at Julio Grondona as he complains about the cancellation of a World Cup warm-up in Dubai on May 29.

Diego Maradona, the Argentina coach, is furious with Julio Grondona, the president of the AFA.
Diego Maradona, the Argentina coach, is furious with Julio Grondona, the president of the AFA.

CUTRAL-CO, ARGENTINA // Diego Maradona aimed a barrage of criticism at Julio Grondona, the president of the Argentine Football Association AFA, as he complained about the cancellation of a World Cup warm-up in Dubai on May 29. "I have the bad news that [the friendly] is not on, but for this one needs [another's] word," an angry Maradona, the Argentina coach, told reporters after his side of home-based players beat Haiti 4-0 in a friendly on Wednesday night to raise funds for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

"I gave [my word] to the players we were going to Dubai on the 26th after playing at River," he said, referring to a warm-up match against Canada at the River Plate stadium on May 24. "From there we were travelling to Pretoria with our gear, beef, sparring [juniors] and 40 guests requested by Grondona," he added of Argentina's plans for the trip to their World Cup base in South Africa. "When Grondona asked me to take 40 guests I told him that no one travels with the national team, but we were going to make this exception and then I find out that the match in Dubai is not on," an exasperated Maradona added.

Maradona, who did not reveal who the guests were, said it was important for Argentina to play the proposed game in the UAE. There is confusion as to who Argentina were planning to face in Dubai, since the national team are scheduled to play against Moldova in Switzerland that day and most Pro League clubs will be on their summer breaks. "I want to talk to Julio [Grondona] because we need to play a game on the 29th and get to Pretoria after that game ... I complied and now I expect him to comply." Maradona admitted that he faced a difficult selection task over the weekend before handing his provisional 30-man squad to Fifa on Monday.

"The truth is I was looking for people [to fill World Cup gaps] and I think I found some," he added, without wanting to elaborate. "I had doubts about some positions and this match was very useful ... no one has their place assured." Maradona has called up more than 100 players in his 18 months in charge, many of whom were locally based and never got on the pitch. "I'm going to have one of the hottest weekends, it's going to be tough because I'm going to have to look, make calls to people I have in Europe, decide on players and start to create the list of 30," he said.

Argentina face Nigeria, South Korea and Greece in Group B In South Africa. * Reuters