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MIDEAST > Maradona named as coach at Al-Wasl

DUBAI - Agence France-Presse

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In this file picture taken on September 15, 2011 Argentine football legend Diego Maradona and coach of UAE's Al-Wasl club attends his team's Emirates Cup football match against Al-Jazira club in Abu Dhabi. AFP photo

In this file picture taken on September 15, 2011 Argentine football legend Diego Maradona and coach of UAE's Al-Wasl club attends his team's Emirates Cup football match against Al-Jazira club in Abu Dhabi. AFP photo

Argentina legend Diego Maradona is to take over as coach next season at Dubai's Al-Wasl, the club announced on Monday.

"Al-Wasl Sports Club is proud to announce the appointment of Diego Armando Maradona as head coach of Al-Wasl Football Club, in a momentous development that will see the football legend lead the team for the next two seasons," the club said in a statement.

The 50-year-old Maradona was manager of the Argentina national side at last year's World Cup in South Africa, but was sacked after the team lost 4-0 to Germany in the quarterfinals.

His name had been mentioned in connection with several coaching jobs since then, notably in the English Premier League and in Iran, but nothing came of these speculations.

The Dubai job was first mentioned on Saturday when Maradona paid a visit to the Al-Wasl training facility and headquarters and club officials said an announcement could be made shortly.

Commenting on the agreement, club chairman Marwan Bin Bayat said: "Al-Wasl Sports Club has become synonymous with achievements of this calibre, and we are very pleased to be welcoming Maradona to a long line of accolades in the club's history.

"This partnership embodies the vision of the club as it embraces forward thinking developments in the region to establish unprecedented standards for the sport."

Al Wasl is currently fourth in the domestic league of the United Arab Emirates, 16 points behind leader Al-Jazira and have been looking for a coach since firing Brazilian Sergio Farias in March.

The club last won the domestic top league honors in 2007 and were crowned Gulf Champions in 2010.

Maradona is the greatest player in Argentina's history, having led the country to its second World Cup title in 1986 in Mexico and a runner-up finish four years later in Italy.

He won 91 caps for his country and scored 34 goals in a career that spanned 21 years and saw him play in Argentina, Spain and Italy. His coaching career started at Textil Mandiyu in 1994, moving onto Racing Club the following year before he took charge of the Argentina national side in November 2008.

He subsequently oversaw an occasionally chaotic World Cup qualifying campaign that included a record 6-1 drubbing at altitude in Bolivia.

Initially, the side played well in South Africa and won all three group matches before beating Mexico in the last 16, but Germany thrashed the two-time champions 4-0 in the quarterfinals and Maradona was given the boot soon after.

November/21/2011

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