x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Maradona says he had to leave Argentina to coach again

Diego Maradona has conceded he had to move to the UAE to resume his coaching career and suggested Sergio Batista should resign as the coach of Argentina.

BUENOS AIRES // Diego Maradona has conceded he had to move to the UAE to resume his coaching career and suggested Sergio Batista should resign as the coach of Argentina.

Maradona, 50, will start his two-year contract as the coach of Al Wasl on August 1, his first job since his contract with the Argentine Football Association (AFA) expired after last year’s World Cup.

“I had to go to Dubai to find a job, unfortunately, far from my country,” Maradona said.

There have been calls for the World Cup winning captain to replace Batista following Argentina’s early Copa America exit.

The AFA say they will keep Batista on as coach despite their quarter-final loss on penalties to Uruguay.

But Maradona said the decision is foolhardy.

“If I had only beaten Costa Rica, [Argentina’s sole Copa success] I would have gone of my own accord,” Maradona told Radio Belgrano.

“What is happening right now is not the fault of the players. Julio Grondona [the AFA president] is doing just what he likes.”

Just over a week before Maradona arrives in the UAE, the Wasl players will start training at the club’s newly-renovated training pitch and gymnasium.

The majority of the squad underwent medical tests yesterday in preparation for their twice a day training sessions.

Joining the squad for the first time on Sunday will be their new signings Edson Puch, the Chilean international midfielder, along with Fahad Masoud, Ali Rabih, Mubarak Hassan and Hamad Al Hosani.

Wasl’s season will start in mid-September when the team will compete in the Etisalat Cup against Al Jazira, Al Wahda, Dubai Club, Al Ain, and new entrants, the Emirates Club, in Group A.

Al Wasl’s first match in the UAE professional league will take place on October 14 at the Zabeel Stadium against Sharjah.

* Compiled by The National staff with agency