x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pro League: Diego Maradona open to return as Al Wasl coach

Argentine football legend, who managed the UAE football club for one season, is delighted to hear about resignation of board, responsible for his ouster.

Diego Maradona was the Al Wasl coach for one season. Mike Young / The National
Diego Maradona was the Al Wasl coach for one season. Mike Young / The National

DUBAI // Diego Maradona will not rule out a return to Al Wasl after the Argentine said he was gladdened by the recent resignation of the club's board.

The former coach’s contract was terminated last July – 14 months into his two-year deal – as Wasl failed to offer enough signs of progress under his frequently tempestuous stewardship.

On Sunday night, the board of directors who last summer dismissed Maradona stepped down, prompting the 52 year old, now a Dubai Sports Council ambassador, to reveal his delight at the decision.

“The resignation is long overdue. They should have been ousted long ago,” Maradona told Dubai Sports Channel. “This group did not understand what we had built. I have no respect for this administration or the person who kicked me out.

“They didn’t respect me or my past achievements and relieved me of my duties via social networking sites without bothering to inform me first."

Maradona’s reign at the Zabeel Stadium was characterised by a number of controversial incidents – a public spat with Cosmin Olaroiu, the Al Ain coach, was misguided – while his side struggled in the UAE Pro League and eventually finished eighth.

Domestic disappointment and a fraught GCC Champions League final defeat persuaded those who employed him, led by chairman Marwan bin Bayat, to resign. A new board was installed and the committee swiftly decided to part company with Maradona.

Four different managers have since taken the reins at the Dubai club, although the troubles have continued. Wasl currently lie ninth in the standings, with only three victories in their past 14 matches. Eid Baroot, the Emirati, was last month made coach until the end of the season, although Maradona claimed he could yet reprise the role – on one condition.

“I don’t see my future at Al Wasl unless Marwan bin Bayat returns,” he said. “I respect that man a lot.

“At the same time, I’m happy with Dubai Sports Council. They're treating me in a very civilised manner and I hope our relationship can continue for as long as possible.”

Maradona denied he was approached in October about a possible comeback, when Bruno Metsu, his replacement, asked to leave the club because of illness. Instead, Guy Lacombe took charge, only to be fired last month following a string of poor results.

“This information is incorrect,” Maradona said. “I have not contacted any officials especially after their wrongful decision to sack me. Whoever spread these rumours is a liar.

“My relationship with Al Wasl was completely severed after they fired me via Twitter. I’m very sorry that certain people strived to distance me from the club and, as much as I love the club, I couldn’t accept working with these people.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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