Grondona: Maradona appointment a ‘dream’

ARGENTINIAN Football Association president Julio Grondona has revealed the impending appointment of Diego Maradona as national team coach is the realisation of a long-held dream.

Maradona revealed on Tuesday night he is ready to accept an offer made by Grondona, and all that remains is for the deal to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the AFA’s executive committee next Tuesday.

Maradona, 48 today, will take charge of the national team, while the man who coached him to success at the 1986 World Cup, Carlos Bilardo, is to work alongside him as a general manager.

“Since 1979, I’ve been looking forward to having Maradona as coach of the national team,” Grondona siad.

Maradona has just half a year of coaching experience – having taken charge of Deportivo Mandiyu for two months in 1994 and Racing Club for four months in 1995 — but though Bilardo is far more experienced, Grondona insisted Maradona will have control of the team.

“Maradona is the number one,” he said. “Bilardo will be the director of national teams. He will be in charge of making everything work properly.

“Putting two heavyweight men together is not easy, but we are trying to find excellence. We have tried to solve personal differences thinking about the national team.”

Argentina, who travel to Hampden to play Scotland on November 19 when Maradona is expected to undertake a watching brief only, have been without a coach since Alfio Basile resigned on October 16.

Argentina have won just one of their last seven World Cup qualifiers to lie third in the South American Zone and Maradona pointed out that, “We must make the players understand our shirt is the most important thing, that they cannot exchange money for glory.”

Maradona’s appointment has already received the backing of Barcelona ace Lionel Messi, who insisted his lack of experience was not an issue.

“It’s not a problem,” said Messi. “He is a great one. I admire him for what he has given Argentinian football.

“I am optimistic. The generation that won the Olympics is arriving,” he added.


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