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Maradona set to coach Argentina

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Will Maradona cut it as Argentina coach?

Argentina legend Diego Maradona is set for a sensational return to football as the coach of his national side.

He will be appointed the new Argentina coach on Tuesday, according to Luis Segura, secretary of the Argentine FA.

The 1986 World Cup-winning skipper has had only two brief spells as a coach in Argentina, but is understood to be the leading candidate for the post.

The 47-year-old said: "The offer attracted me a lot. As soon as it is confirmed I will start working."

If Maradona does take over he will succeed Alfio Basile, who resigned earlier this month after a World Cup qualifying defeat to Chile.

"The idea is to start working immediately after the official announcement, with the players who are in Argentina," Maradona was quoted as saying. "And then take the first plane to talk to the ones in Europe."

Segura said: "The appointment will be official when the Argentine Football Association Committee approves it, and the next meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday.

"I believe there will not be any more meetings with the other candidates," he added.

TIM VICKERY BLOG
Segura confirmed Argentine Under-20 coach Sergio Batista will be in charge for the friendly against Scotland at Hampden on 19 November.

Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi welcomed the expected appointment, despite Maradona recently criticising Messi for his selfish attitude on the pitch.

"Those are things that you say at the time. I know Diego appreciates me and I don't hold any grudges," Messi told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

"There's no problem. He's a great and I admire him for what he gave to Argentine football."

Maradona spent seven seasons at Italian Serie A side Napoli and the club's former president, Corrado Ferlaino, insisted the Argentine was effectively the coach on the pitch.

"There was a time when (Ottavio) Bianchi was the coach but from his second season the players didn't talk to Bianchi, Maradona was the true coach," said Ferlaino.

Widely regarded as one of the best players in the history of the sport, Maradona is an iconic figure in Argentina.

In his remarkable 21-year playing career he hit new heights of brilliance on the field, yet plumbed depths of despair away off it.

His most memorable achievements came with the national side - the 1986 World Cup tournament becoming synonymous with his name.

DIEGO MARADONA FACTFILE
Diego Maradona
Born: 30 October 1960, Buenos Aires
Clubs: Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, Newell's Old Boys
International debut: 27 February 1977 (aged 16)
International career: 91 caps, 34 goals
Major honours: 1981 Argentina title; 1983 Cope del Rey; 1986 World Cup; 1987 Serie A title; 1987 Copa Italia; 1989 Uefa Cup; 1990 Serie A title
Maradona captained Argentina to a famous triumph, playing every minute of the tournament and scoring five goals, including two against England in the quarter-final that will live forever in football folklore.

His first goal of the 2-1 win came courtesy of an outrageous handball which he later described as "the hand of God", but the second is said by many to be the best goal ever scored; Maradona danced past five England players before poking the ball past Peter Shilton.

But Maradona's life away from football has been anything but straightforward, with a long-running addiction to cocaine undermining his genius.

The second failed drugs test of his career saw him sent home from the 1994 World Cup in disgrace, and since retiring at the age of 37, Maradona has suffered numerous health problems.

Battles with his drug addiction, alcoholism and obesity saw him suffer a heart attack in 2004, which put him in intensive care, while a later stomach-stapling operation saw him lose 30kg (66 lbs) of excess weight.

Maradona is a virtual novice in coaching terms, with only short spells with Argentine clubs Deportivo Mandiyu and Racing Club in the 1990s on his CV.

But with his health largely restored, Maradona now looks set to take the reins as coach of the national team.

606: DEBATE
renoog
Carlos Bilardo, who coached the winning side in 1986, was involved in the talks with AFA president Julio Grondona and is likely to be part of Maradona's coaching set-up.

Pedro Troglio, who coaches Paraguayan club Cerro Porteno, has also been linked with a role.

Noray Nakis, the president of the AFA selection commission, has already stated his wish, saying: "I'd like Maradona to be the next coach."

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see also
The Maradona Diaries
28 Oct 08 |  Football
Argentina brave heat to take gold
23 Aug 08 |  Football
Maradona in Bolivia charity match
18 Mar 08 |  Americas
Maradona leaves alcoholism clinic
07 May 07 |  Americas
Maradona to hold Honduras talks
26 Oct 06 |  Internationals
Maradona coy about Argentina role
03 Jul 06 |  Argentina
When Lineker met Maradona
27 Apr 06 |  Football
Maradona's fall from grace
19 Apr 04 |  Football
Diego Maradona timeline
19 Apr 04 |  Football


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