Al Wasl: Maradona to remain as coach next season

Al Wasl said Diego Maradona will remain as coach next season

despite the loss in the GCC Champions League final that caused the

entire board to resign and had raised doubts about the Argentine

great’s future.

Wasl Club chairman Mohammad Ahmad bin Fahad dismissed reports

that Maradona had resigned as a ”mistake.” He said Maradona’s

future had not been discussed at the board meeting Sunday.

”Maradona is the head coach of Al Wasl and has the complete

authority for the program,” Bin Fahad said. “He will continue with

us. There is no change in his position.”

The Al Wasl board resigned Thursday without giving an

explanation. It was led by Marwan bin Bayat, who was instrumental

in signing Maradona to a two-year deal in May. The resignation

sparked reports in the local media on Sunday that Maradona has been

sacked.

Maradona, currently on vacation in Argentina, endured a dismal

season with Al Wasl with the club finishing eighth out of 12

teams.

He had hoped to salvage the season by winning the GCC final. Al

Wasl won the first leg 3-1 at Bahrain’s Al Muharrah and fans packed

Al Wasl stadium for the return leg expecting the club to win its

first trophy of the season.

Team President Sheik Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – a brother of

the Dubai ruler – even turned up for the first time this season to

join the expected celebration.

But the team lost the June 10 match on penalties in a contest

marred by two Al Wasl players being sent off for head-butting

opposing players.

Maradona said in the post-match news conference that he would

return next season and was looking forward to planning the team’s

future by making several new signings. He has not spoken to the

media since the loss.

His departure would not come as a total surprise, especially in

the United Arab Emirates pro league where foreign coaches rarely

last a season.

Maradona has been a huge hit with Al Wasl fans and almost

single-handedly put United Arab Emirates football on the map, but

has yet to demonstrate he can coach successfully.

Al Wasl has often looked sluggish and struggled to score for

most of the season. The final also showed that Maradona has little

control over several of his ill-disciplined players, despite his

iconic status as one of the greatest ever footballers.

Maradona captained Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup in

Mexico. He retired in 1997.

Maradona has also sparred repeatedly with management in recent

months over what he says have been broken promises to provide him

with quality players. He has threatened to quit several times

unless the club provided him with more money to buy players. After

his latest outburst in April, he backtracked and said he would work

with the players the club gave him and fulfill the remainder of his

contract.

Maradona joined Al Wasl following his firing as the Argentina

national team coach. Under Maradona, Argentina’s results were

mixed, including two of its worst losses – a 6-1 rout by Bolivia in

World Cup qualifying and a 4-0 quarterfinal loss to Germany during

the tournament in South Africa.

Before taking over as coach of Argentina in 2008, he coached

Argentine first-division sides Deportivo Mandiyu in 1994 and Racing

Club in 1995. In both cases, he left before his contract was

up.