Archive for Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona fired from UAE club.

DUBAI: United Arab Emirates football club al-Wasl on Tuesday fired Argentine great Diego Maradona after only one season, despite his contract granting him a second.

The club, which finished 8th in the domestic league and failed to win a second-tier competition, left the board of directors frustrated.

The firing comes after Maradona had seen the club back him for a second season at the helm last month.

The club had said Maradona would remain as the team’s coach despite a disappointing loss in the GCC Champions League final that forced the entire board of directors to resign.

The loss had left many questioning whether the former Argentine great would remain in the UAE.

But Wasl Club chairman Mohammad Ahmad bin Fahad dismissed in mid-June 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.”

But on Tuesday Maradona was given the pink slip and booted as the club’s manager.

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Diego Maradona to remain at UAE club next season.

DUBAI: United Arab Emirates football club al-Wasl announced on Monday that Diego Maradona would remain as the team’s coach despite a disappointing loss in the GCC Champions League final that forced the entire board of directors to resign.

The loss had left many questioning whether the former Argentine great would remain in the UAE.

But 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 board of the club resigned last Thursday without explaining itself and Marwan bin Bayat, who had inked the two-year deal to bring Maradona to the UAE, led the exodus.

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 8th 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 the home stadium for the return leg expecting the club to win its first trophy of the season.

But two players were booted from the match after they head-butted opposing players, and al-Wasl lost the match and the final.

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Didier Drogba fielding offers from UAE and China.

DUBAI: Former Chelsea star Didier Drogba could be on his way to the United Arab Emirates, after al-Wasl made a bid to the striker to bring the aging footballer to the Gulf country.

However, al-Wasl Chairman Marwan bin Bayat said that he expects the former English Premier League superstar to sign with a Chinese club.

The chairman would not say on Wednesday how much the club has offered Drogba, only that it was less than what has been offered from the Chinese team.

Drogba has been linked to Shanghai Shenhua, which also has hired former Argentina coach Sergio Batista and another former Chelsea player in Nicolas Anelka.

Bin Bayat said the club, which is coached by Diego Maradona, was “definitely serious” about Drogba but that the Ivorian striker “seems more interested in China.”

Maradona wants the club to bring in bigger names after a season in which it finished eighth in the 12-team UAE professional league.

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Diego Maradona

Dubai (dpa) – “We’re doing great,” Argentine football legend Diego Maradona says of life in Dubai.

The facilities of his club, Al Wasl, are just 25 minutes away from the luxurious palm-shaped artificial island Jumeirah Palm, where he lives at a “royal residence” within the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel.

At the reception, a young woman plays the harp surrounded by water fountains, with intricate lamps hanging from the ceiling. The hotel annexes known as royal residences are a set of exclusive villas that go for more than 1,300 dollars a night.

Maradona and his family live in one of them, surrounded by a clear blue sea. And they enjoy Dubai, with its peculiar mix of Miami, Las Vegas, Monte Carlo and Istanbul.

On the horizon, sprinkled with the dust of the frequent sandstorms, one can see the skyline of Dubai Marina, a new hotspot for millionaires which from a distance looks like Manhattan.

Opposite, the huge hotel Atlantis on the Palm, the top of the palm tree, catches the eye. Beyond, six hours by boat across the Gulf, there is Iran.

On this side of the sea, there is Burj al Arab, a sail-shaped building that houses the world’s most expensive hotel, the first one with seven stars. And topping all skyscrapers rises Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at more than 820 meters, although the dust sometimes hides it.

Maradona can see all this exuberant architecture – which shows off the United Arab Emirates’ good financial health as one of the world leaders in terms of per capita GDP – as he drives his white Audi Q7 to Al Wasl’s small stadium, complete with an adjacent mosque as befits local custom.

The sand piles up on the sides of Sheik Zayed Road, Dubai’s main artery with six lanes in each direction. The road is lined with shopping centers and closed, air-conditioned bus stops, a welcome break in summer when temperatures climb to 50 degrees Celsius.

The buzz around Maradona has cooled down somewhat, a journalist with the local Gulf News notes. The hype that started with Maradona’s arrival in May is now almost gone, even though the coach insists that football is a big deal in the Emirates.

“Above all things, there is a love of football. It’s a blessing that people get to enjoy football in such a faraway country,” Maradona told dpa in an interview.

However, there were few spectators in Baniyas, some 150 kilometers from Al Wasl’s own stadium, where Maradona’s team beat Al Jazira 4-3 Friday to qualify for the semi-finals of the Etisalat Cup. There were just nine reporters at the post-match press conference, and things could have been worse: only three had listened to Al Ahli’s coach Quique Sanchez Flores just two days earlier.

“For the Arab world, having Maradona here is a global reference. It’s like Pele, Cruyff and Di Stefano: whatever he says and however he says it is going to generate interest at all times, it’s always a luxury to have him here,” Sanchez Flores told dpa about the Argentine superstar.

Having Maradona is a luxury, and it’s a show, both during the match and afterwards, when he faces the media with the help of two translators. There, he uses stage props.

For example, someone will call his cellphone so that everyone in the room can hear the voice on the ringtone of Benjamin, Maradona’s grandson, the son of his daughter Giannina and of Manchester City star striker Sergio Aguero. The boy is the apple of his grandad’s eye, and a frequent star at press conferences.

Maradona also has some greetings in the direction of the Middle East.

“For me, visiting Palestine is like having Benjamin give me a kiss. The Palestinian people need us all to help it, and I am at Palestine’s disposal. I am Palestine’s number one fan,” he said.

However, many months after his arrival in the region, Maradona has not attracted other great names of football to the desert. Nobody followed Italian veteran Fabio Cannavaro to the Emirates, where children play cricket rather than football in their midnight matches in car parks.

“I don’t know if we’re perfect, but we’re always looking for the rival goal. We try to reach the rival goal by playing good football, and I think that does the whole of Emirates football some good. There were seven goals, it’s a beautiful show to see seven goals,” Maradona said Friday.

However, the clash between two sides with very weak defenses was only witnessed by 317 fans in the stands.

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Diego Maradona

DUBAI: Embattled Argentine superstar coach Diego Maradona showed his support on Saturday for the Palestinian people and promised the national team to visit their country.

“I am the number one fan of the Palestinian people. I respect them and sympathize with them as they all need that we stand by them,” Maradona told dpa in Dubai, where he coaches the al-Wasl football team.

“I promised the Palestinian football team to visit Palestine. I support this nation’s cause as I grew up on struggle and standing against injustice,” he said.

In August, the Argentine star accepted the Palestinian black-and-white scarf from a fan. He hugged the fan and thanked him, before flashing a victory sign and telling the camera “Viva Palestina.”

Maradona also expressed his happiness after his team won 4-3 against their rivals Al Jazira team, reaching the semi-finals in the Pro League in the United Arab Emirates.

“The players followed my instructions and won this match after several failures,” he said.

Maradona has been coaching Al Wasl since May under a two-year contract.

He will travel with his team to Oman on Monday for their first match in the Gulf Champions League.

He has faced a bit of controversy in recent months, with speculation he could take over the UAE national team in the near future.

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