x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Maradona's fate at Al Wasl rests with the new board

A new board at Al Wasl may decide the fate of Diego Maradona, and Quique Sanchez Flores should have a deal in place with Al Ahli in the next few days.

Diego Maradona has a two-year contract with Al Wasl but all that may not matter after a season with no silverware and the especially disappointing finish in the GCC Clubs Championship final.
Diego Maradona has a two-year contract with Al Wasl but all that may not matter after a season with no silverware and the especially disappointing finish in the GCC Clubs Championship final.

DUBAI // Diego Maradona's future at Al Wasl will be up for discussion in the coming days when the club's new board meets to take stock of the team's disappointing season.

The board of directors of both the club and Al Wasl Football Company tendered their resignation to Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid, the chairman of the club, on Thursday following a season in which the team failed to win any silverware.

They finished eighth out of 12 in the Pro League, failed to reach beyond the second round of the President's Cup and were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Etisalat Cup by Al Ahli, the eventual champions.

Wasl also failed to hold on to a 3-1 advantage in the GCC Clubs Championship final against Bahrain's Al Muharraq, losing the second leg 3-1 at home with the goalkeeper Majed Naser and the striker Rashid Essa sent off for butting opposition players.

In his parting news conference after the GCC Final, Maradona, who has a two-year contract, said he would be back to lead the team next season, but now the new board will decide whether to continue with the Argentine legend or look elsewhere.

"We will discuss the future of Maradona and all other topics related to the football team in the coming days," said Hassan Al Marri, one of the members of the new board.

Dr Mohammed bin Fahad, the chairman of the Wasl board of directors that resigned on Thursday, has been reappointed to the new board but Marwan bin Beyat, the outgoing chairman of Al Wasl Football Company, has failed to find a place. Ismail Rashid, the former UAE team manager, is the only newcomer on the board and he is one of the favourites to take over as the new chairman of the board of directors, which will meet tonight to decide on the new board of directors and the formation of different committees.

Meanwhile, Naser is ready to seek psychiatric help for his anger management issues and has promised to come back a changed man.

Naser has been banned for the whole of next season by Wasl after his butt on Ismail Abdul Latif in the 10th minute of the second leg of the GCC Clubs Championship final last Sunday.

It was the second incident of on-field violence involving the Wasl goalkeeper this season. On March 11, he had slapped Quique Sanchez Flores, the Ahli coach, after the Etisalat Cup semi-final and he was banned for 17 matches by the Disciplinary Committee of the Football Association.

"I am fully aware about the scale of outrage [over this incident] ," he said on a Dubai television show.

"And I admit I deserve the sanctions imposed by the management of Al Wasl club. I believe spending some time away could be in my best interest."

Naser was forced to leave under police escort after the GCC Clubs Championship defeat as angry Wasl fans waited for him outside. Club management later decided to ban him for the next season without remuneration and deny him any financial rewards from the GCC Clubs Championship. The club also requested the cancellation of Naser's exemption from his official duty as a policeman.



DUBAI // Al Ahli are confident Quique Sanchez Flores will stay at the club next season following successful negotiations with the Spaniard's agent.

Jorge Mendes, coach's representative, has been in Dubai for the past few days negotiating with Ahli's management and the two parties appear to have reached an agreement.

"Officially, no deal has been signed as yet but we are confident Mr Flores will continue with us in the next season," said Ahmed Khalifa Hammad, the chief executive of Al Ahli. "We should have a deal in the next few days."

Sanchez Flores, who took over the reins at Ahli in November following Ivan Hasek's exit, guided his team to their first trophy in three years when they beat Al Shabab in the Etisalat Cup final. Ahli finished the season with a flourish, going unbeaten in nine games.

The Spaniard, who has also managed Valencia, Benfica and Atletico Madrid, had expressed his desire to continue at Ahli after the end of the season, but requested some time before he made a final decision.

Mendes, who also manages some of football's biggest names such as Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Falcao, had also confirmed the desire of Sanchez Flores to stay at Ahli before his arrival in Dubai.

"Quique is a well know coach and has a lot of offers," Mendes had told Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm. "Currently, he has three offers: one from Spain and two from other European countries, but he believes he can win the league title with Al Ahli next season and that is the reason he has turned down the other offers."

According to club sources, Mendes has already got approval from Sanchez Flores on the details of the new contract and its value, and he is expected to officially sign the deal in the next few days.




Jorge Valdivia says he will keep playing in Brazil despite learning his wife was sexually molested during the couple's abduction 10 days ago.

The Chilean playmaker, who once played for Al Ain, says he remains emotionally shaken and that his wife, Daniela, wants them to move back to Chile, but that his Sao Paulo club, Palmeiras, will not let him go without financial compensation.

Valdivia, who played at the 2010 World Cup, was one of Palmeiras' most expensive signings in 2010.

The Chilean midfielder and his wife were abducted at gunpoint on June 7 while trying to rent a movie at a shopping center in a wealthy area in South America's biggest city.

Valdivia's wife later told her husband that the criminal, who has been arrested, inappropriately molested her.



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