x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Slow going at Al Wasl has irked Diego Maradona

Delay in striker deal and erratic attendance of players at training annoys the Al Wasl coach, who cites a lack of professionalism.

Al Wasl coach Diego Maradona, left, has been disappointed by the lack of availability of some players who have day jobs.
Al Wasl coach Diego Maradona, left, has been disappointed by the lack of availability of some players who have day jobs.

DUBAI // Diego Maradona launched a double broadside ahead of his Pro League debut as Al Wasl manager against Sharjah on Sunday night by venting his frustration at the speed of the club's recruitment process and questioning the commitment of some of his players.

Maradona said he is waiting for a deal with Richard Porta, the Uruguayan-Australian striker, to be completed and would like the club to step up the recruitment of Emirati players. He is also concerned at the training attendance record of the club. "There is a lack of professionalism," Maradona said.

"The number of players who show up at training is not very consistent. Sometimes I have 16 players, sometimes 24.

"I am not saying they are running away from training, but the problem is some of them have jobs, some are students, some in the police. They are tired and cannot perform well in training.

"This is something that is disturbing me. I have spoken about this with the management. Some players live in other emirates and we spoke about bringing them closer to Dubai, but I am told this is not possible. I am surprised because in Argentina, this is very easy to do, but it is not possible here.

Maradona said he is a "bit annoyed" and that he is "trying my best to deal with the matter at hand". He went on to make an appeal to the managers of his players at their day jobs and the professors at the colleges and universities.

"I would like to invite the professors and police to come here and watch the matches with their friends and families," Maradona said. "They are all welcome here to watch the matches and I will pay for all their expenses; I am willing to give them my own jersey.

"I would like to request the professors at the colleges to arrange their classes according to the training schedule of the players. I just want the police and the professors to help me with my players and allow them to come for training without being as tired as before."

Wasl last week confirmed their interest in signing Porta, who is playing with the Uruguayan side Club Nacional while on loan from the Italian club Siena. The deal is proving to be protracted.

"The negotiations are facing some problems, especially on the financial side," Maradona said. "I am surprised why it is taking so long; the player is not very expensive. So I am a little disappointed about that."

He said he was happy that Abdullah Abdulrahman, the Al Ahli striker, would be joining the side, "but we still need a few more reinforcements. We will try to make do with what we have right now, but the request for more players is going to remain and Mr Marwan bin Bayat [the chief executive] knows about this."

Wasl were drubbed 5-0 by Dubai in their last Etisalat Cup match and they will be missing Hassan Ali, the midfielder, through injury for tonight's match. The heavy defeat led to questions about the coaching ability of Maradona, who in June signed a two-year contract with the club.

"If someone does not like me or has anything against me, it doesn't really matter to me," he said. "I am with Al Wasl, I have a contract here and I will complete my contract to the last day. I will give my best at all times. After the 5-0 defeat, some people might think otherwise, but I don't care about what they think. Al Wasl have probably one per cent the budget of Arsenal and they lost 8-2 the other day [to Manchester United]."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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