Sport & Culture

Maradona on the Move?

U.A.E. won’t qualify from the World Cup’s Asia group. So would Diego Maradona really want to coach them?

Diego Maradona as national team coach of the United Arab Emirates? It’s possible according to the head of that country’s football association, Yousef Al Serkal, who raised the possibility earlier this week.

Considered by many to be the best player in the history of the game, the Argentine has been coaching Dubai club Al Wasl since last summer.

“Yes, we have thought of Maradona to lead the team. He’s one of the names you can’t lose sight of, especially since he is already here,” Al Serkal said.

He’s not considered to be a great coach, despite leading Argentina to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup. The general feeling is that the team, including the likes of Lionel Messi and son-in-law Sergio Aguero, reached the last eight, where it got thrashed by Germany, despite the man at the helm, not because of him.

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Maradona seems to fit the theory that the very best players don’t make great coaches. The thinking goes that such men struggle to get the best out of players who have a fraction of their natural talent.

That may be over-simplistic, but it certainly seems to be the case that Al Wasl hired the 1986 World Cup winning captain because of who he is and what he can do for the team’s profile, rather than for his tactical abilities.

Since his arrival, Al Wasl has rarely been out of the domestic news, and has made regular appearances in the international media. Results have been mixed, with the former powerhouse now sitting in 5th place out of 12 teams.

Maradona, however, has fallen out with coaches of opposing teams and was fined by the league for his comments, apologized to a fan after kicking his hand and has been publicly criticized by a senior player.

Maradona is on record reacting positively to the possibility of a return to the international stage, but it may not be his cup of tea.

UAE is in something of a transition phase, and has lost all five games so far in the third and penultimate round of qualification for the 2014 World Cup. So there’s no chance of it qualifying from the Asia group.

There is some promising young talent, but it’s hard to imagine Maradona being the man to bring that talent through – or wanting to stick around so long without much in the way of meaningful matches.

But as a player, you never knew what he would do next on the football pitch, and as a coach there’s a similar feeling about him. Who knows what will happen in the next chapter of Diego Maradona’s colorful career.