Maradona heading to Spain for friendly

Argentina coach Diego Maradona is heading to Spain to prepare for a friendly against the European champion, and to meet with many of his Europe-based players.

Maradona has called up several new players for the match on Nov. 14, including Inter Milan midfielder Esteban Cambiasso and defender Cristian Ansaldi of Russian club Rubin Kazan.

Maradona celebrated a year on the job on Wednesday. He has been under constant pressure in that span to deliver better results, and has faced tough criticism for many of his coaching moves.

Argentina has won nine of 13 matches with Maradona on the bench. However, all four losses came in critical South American World Cup qualifying games. They included a 6-1 loss at Bolivia and a 3-1 loss to Brazil at home in Argentina.

Argentina claimed the final automatic qualifying berth from South America last month, after beating Peru 2-1 on a late goal and edging Uruguay 1-0.

Following the Uruguay game, Maradona spoke on national television using crude, vulgar language in a tirade against critics who have suggested he is unqualified to be the national team coach.

FIFA, the governing body of world football, has said it is investigating Maradona’s behavior and could ban him for five games and hit him with a stiff fine.

Last week the Argentine Football Association defended Maradona’s conduct and blamed the media for his outburst, saying reporters had created the problems by confronting him with tough questions the day before the match.