x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Quique Sanchez Flores provoked my player, says Diego Maradona

The Al Wasl coach says the club will appeal Majed Naser's 17-match ban and has called on the FA to investigate the Al Ahli coach's gesture toward his goalkeeper.

Diego Maradona says goalkeeper Majed Nasser will continue to train with the squad as they appeal his 17-match ban. Jeff Topping / The National
Diego Maradona says goalkeeper Majed Nasser will continue to train with the squad as they appeal his 17-match ban. Jeff Topping / The National

DUBAI // Diego Maradona last night blamed Quique Sanchez Flores for provoking his banned goalkeeper Majed Naser and called on the Football Association's Disciplinary Committee to be "fair" and take action against the Al Ahli coach.

And he said Al Wasl would "definitely appeal" against the national team goalkeeper's unprecedented 17-match suspension.

Naser was banned by the FA Disciplinary Committee on Monday after he slapped Sanchez Flores on the back of his head following Al Wasl's 1-0 defeat at Ahli in the Etisalat Cup semi-final on Sunday night.

He got 11 matches for the assault on Sanchez Flores and six matches for spitting at Ahli's Lebanese defender Yousuf Mohammed.

Maradona, stressing that he was not justifying Naser's action, claimed Ahli's Spanish coach had made a gesture during the first half of the match, implying the Wasl goalkeeper was crazy.

"In the first half, when Majed was going to retrieve a ball from behind the goal, Flores made a gesture with his hand, implying Majed is crazy," Maradona said at his weekly news conference last night.

"This is what triggered the whole issue. So I feel that Flores is also at fault and he should also be penalised by the disciplinary committee.

"In my entire career of 35 years, I have not seen a coach act like this against a player from the opposite team.

"I would never do this. I am focusing on my players and not my opponents.

"I am not defending Majed in anyway, or justifying what he did, but I just ask the judgement to be fair.

"I would like the disciplinary committee to look at the gesture of Flores and look at the act of Naser after the game, and then try to judge which one is worse."

Maradona also believes the ban on Naser is excessive as players from other teams have escaped with much lighter sentences for similar offences.

"Majed has apologised to Flores and he accepted the apology," Maradona said. "We have seen it happen before with Al Ain, when their goalkeeper got only a four-match ban.

"When it comes to Al Wasl, we get 17 matches. It seems when anything is related to Al Wasl, it is exaggerated. We just ask the judgement to be fair, whether it is Al Ain or Al Wasl."

The Argentine also promised Wasl will challenge the ban and get it reduced. The UAE international Naser has 10 days to appeal the sentence.

"Yes, we will definitely appeal against this decision," Maradona said.

"It was not a vicious attack; we did not see any blood or something like that to see such an excessive ban.

"I have spoken to Marwan bin Bayat [the chairman of Al Wasl Football Company] and we discussed other such cases where Al Ain players committed acts of violence against Al Nasr players and they were only banned for two, three or maximum four matches.

"I have spoken to Majed Naser as well. He will continue training with us. We will definitely appeal and even if we have to spend some money to reduce the ban, we will do so."



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