Former Argentine striker Diego Maradona is the new coach of Dubai football club Al Wasl. He’s an eccentric who wasn’t very successful when he coached his home team at the 2010 World Cup, but we’ve really missed him. Things are never dull when Maradona is on the edges of the football field. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
It’s a real tragedy that most people will only remember Diego Maradona as the short, fat, bejewelled man in a grey suit who provided a riveting spectacle on the edge of the field during Argentina’s football matches at the World Cup. Maradona is so much more than that – a fact we football fans were at pains to communicate when tourists irritably asked who the annoying clown in the suit was.
Look, he’s a big deal. Take it from us.
And we’re very happy to see him take the reins at Al Wasl. Frankly, Maradona could probably have been given a coaching job somewhere in continental Europe quite easily. He probably made the right choice to coach in a minor footballing country – hopefully to rebuild his reputation after the rather, er, short-lived campaign at the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
The Argentine Football Association declined to renew his contract as national coach after the World Cup. It wasn’t hard to see why. As much as his players loved him, and as much as the fans enjoyed his presence, his record as a coach wasn’t terribly good, despite the AFA’s 74% win ratio under his helm. Argentina barely managed to qualify for the World Cup, suffered a 6 – 1 defeat to Bolivia (to call that score a national catastrophe would be an understatement) and tumbled out of the World Cup in the quarterfinal stages, humiliated by a determined and ruthless young German side (0:4).
Many blamed Maradona’s lack of consistency as a coach for the team’s poor showing. We thought he was finished as a coach. But the “Hand of God” clearly still rests on Diego Maradona. DM
Photo: Al Wasl club head coach Diego Maradona arrives at Dubai International Airport August 3, 2011. REUTERS/Mosab Omar.
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