After several days of intense speculation, the Argentinian Football Association has finally confirmed Diego Maradona as the new head coach of the national football team. Carlos Bilardo, who led Argentina to success in the 1986 World Cup, will become assistant manager.
The two men are accustomed to working with each other at the highest level, as Maradona was an instrumental part of the 1986 World Cup winning team.
Maradona was keen to speak about his excitement at joining up with Bilardo once again. The coach stated that “being alongside Carlos is an honour for me”. Furthermore, he is not taking his appointment lightly and remains adamant that he will “work every day to make Argentina have a better national team”.
The Argentinian Football Association executive committee held a meeting in Buenos Aires in order to finalise the details of Maradona’s appointment. Argentina have been without a manager since the middle of October, when Alfio Basile vacated the post.
The footballing legend has been given the official title of technical director and he will now be busy preparing his team for their trip to Scotland later this month.
Maradona’s first move after being named as coach was to appoint Javier Mascherano as captain of the national team. The reasons for this choice, according to the new coach, are simple: “he is the Argentinian player who is closest to the idea I have about the Argentinian shirt – sweat for it, sacrifice for it”.
In a moment of humour, Maradona suggested that he may have to “convince” the Liverpool midfielder to accept the honour of representing his country on the pitch.
The squad for the Scotland match, scheduled to be played at Hampden Park on the nineteenth of November, will also include Fabricio Coloccini, who has impressed at Newcastle United this season. However, notable exclusions from the squad include Esteban Cambiasso, the combative Inter Milan midfielder.
Lionel Messi, the precocious young star of the Barcelona first team, has been left out after an agreement with the Spanish club. Barcelona did not want to release the player after they agreed to let him travel to the Olympic Games in Beijing. Despite not having Messi in his team, Maradona remains confident that his side can do well in Scotland.
Although the new coach has had some experience at club level in Argentina, he remains famous for his exploits as a player. England fans will remember him from the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup.
During this match, the player scored with a ridiculous handball and later coined the phrase the “hand of God” to describe the goal. In another moment of humour, Maradona revealed that he hoped that this episode in his playing career would make him welcome in Scotland, since “the English and the Scots get on horribly”.
Maradona’s appointment has pleased many people in Argentina, where he is a truly popular figure. However, some people remain anxious that he does not have the experience to lead Argentina to the heights of success that the country is craving. Other sections of the country’s media have voiced concerns over his personal life, which has been tainted by drug addiction and obesity.