Maradona named Argentina coach

[ARGENTINA] Diego Maradona, 47, is about to be named as the new coach of the Argentina national team. He will succeed Alfio Basile, who resigned earlier this month.

Maradona met Argentina soccer federation president Julio Grondona Tuesday evening in Buenos Aires, according to media reports quoting former Argentina coach Carlos Bilardo, who was in the meeting, as saying that Maradona had been offered the job. Maradona was set to meet with Grondona again on Wednesday and was cautious.

"I don't want to open the champagne before it happens,'' Maradona said in an interview with radio station Mitre.

Argentina U-20 coach Sergio Batista, who led Argentina to the Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, had been tipped to succeed Basile, but Maradona, who has minimal coaching experience, still enjoys an almost divine status among the Argentine public for the achievements of his playing days with Argentina (1986 world champion), Boca Juniors (Argentine champion 1982) and Napoli (Serie A champion, 1987 and 1990).

Maradona had two short spells in club management in the 1990s, including a stint at Racing Club in 1995. In recent years, he has overcome severe health problems related to drug and alcohol addictions. He is widely regarded as being the only player ever to have competed with the Brazilian Pele for the title of greatest soccer player in history.

 

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