x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Pro League gripped by arrival of Maradona

Coaches and players in the Pro League are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Argentine football legend Diego Maradona as Al Wasl's new coach for the next two seasons.

Coaches and players in the Pro League are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Argentine football legend Diego Maradona as Al Wasl's new coach for the next two seasons.

Mahdi Ali, the Baniyas and national Olympic team coach, believes Maradona signing is a significant new development in raising the profile of UAE football. "He is an excellent marketing tool for the country's football," the Emirati said.

"He has already made big international news with his move to join Al Wasl and I feel it is exciting new development for the sport in the country. I can't foresee his future with Wasl but his presence alone would mean a lot for both, the club and the country."

Haboush Saleh, the 20-year-old Baniyas midfielder, added: "I have heard a lot about Maradona. I am not a big fan of him because he is a player from the previous generation, but I know he is a legend."

Haider Ali, the Al Wahda captain, did not believe his ears at first.

"Someone as famous as Maradona signing for an Emirati club is unbelievable," he said. "It is a very significant development and paves the way for some of the world's best coaches and players to join the Emirati clubs."

Waleed Salem, the Al Ain captain and goalkeeper, said: "Maradona's signing is the biggest catch yet for an Emirati club. It doesn't matter what he achieves hereafter; he has made an indelible mark on the UAE's football."

Matias Delgado, the only Argentine player in the Pro League, admitted that playing for Diego Maradona would be a dream come true. But Al Jazira's playmaker is not planning to leave the league champions any time soon.

"I would love to play for Diego, but only if he comes to Al Jazira," Delgado said.

"Having said that, I hope Abel Braga [the current Jazira coach] stays here for many years. He is also a very big coach and has won many titles in Brazil and now here."

apassela@thenational.ae