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Oct 28, 2008

Maradona to become next coach of Argentina

Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona is set to be named coach of the national side after he came out of a meeting with Argentinian Football Association president Julio Grondona on Tuesday.

The Albicelestes have been without a coach since Alfio Basile stepped down for personal reasons on October 16 and although Grondona has yet to announce it to the press, reports suggest that the official presentation will take place on Thursday.

Former Argentina coach Carlos Bilardo was also at the meeting, and it is understood he could become a technical director in the new set-up.

Maradona told Radio La Red: "My first job will be watching the players. I'll try to talk to them one by one and then work at the training camp in Ezeiza with them.

"I arrived from Georgia at 10am and three hours later I was having a shower to meet Julio (Grondona). As I was going to the meeting, I thought it was some kind of hidden camera (show).

"The direction Julio wants for the national team is the same Bilardo and I have. My job will be watching the players and picking up the ones who are in the best form."

Maradona has little coaching experience, having been in charge of Deportivo Mandiyu for two months in 1994 and Racing Club for four months in 1995.

Now, he faces the task of helping Argentina improve their form with the Albicelestes having won just one of their last seven World Cup qualifiers to lie third in the South American Zone.

The former Argentina captain told FOX Sports: "The offer from Julio Grondona attracted me a lot. As soon as it is confirmed, I will start working, but I can say I am very proud.

"I'm putting everything aside for this. There is nothing that can make me look past the national team. Today my path is the national team, my task is to talk to the players and build a solid group. I am sure the guys and Argentinian football will pull through.

"I think we must make the players understand that our shirt is the most important thing, that they cannot exchange money for glory. Glory is much more than money. I know they know that, but we must make them remember that every day.

"We have enough quality to calm the nation. The road to the World Cup is not easy, but I believe in the Argentinian players. Everybody wants to play at the World Cup but we must show our traditions and our style on the field."

Prior to the meeting, Grondona told Uruguayan radio station Colonia the Argentinian Football Association were considering ditching the traditional one-coach system in favour of a committee.

"Responsibility cannot only be on one person and we are analysing whether we continue with the one-coach system or we change it by forming a coaching body," Grondona told Colonia.

"One person can never control everything. That system is not working. Coaches are only staying in charge for two or three games. When a forward misses a goal, everybody is looking at the coach and immediately pointing at him.

"I really don't know if all the coaches agree with the idea of a group. Anyway, we are not in a hurry."

Meanwhile, Pedro Troglio, coach of Paraguayan club Cerro Porteno, claims he has already been approached by Maradona to become a member of the new Argentina set-up.

"I am extremely happy, but I must keep my feet on the ground," Maradona's former international team-mate told the Ole newspaper. "The world's best player has called me.

"It was a huge surprise. Being aware that your name is included as possible coaching staff is amazing, but we'll have to wait to see whether Diego is selected."

The 48-year-old Maradona - who almost single-handedly led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup trophy - won crucial support last week in his bid to become the next Argentina coach when the man charged with finding Alfio Basile's successor threw his weight behind the World Cup winning skipper.

"I'd like Maradona to be the next coach," said Noray Nakis, the president of the Argentina Football Association (AFA) selection commission.

Maradona faced competition for the job from Carlos Bianchi, the former coach of Boca Juniors, whom he led to four national league titles, San Lorenzo coach Miguel Angel Russo and Sergio Batista who took the Under-23 squad to Olympic gold in Beijing in August.

Liverpool and Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano said that Maradona, widely regarded as the world's greatest ever footballer, is an ideal candidate to take the reins.

"Maradona can contribute to the team all of his experience," he told the Daily Mail. "What he has given us as a player, no other player could give that to Argentina. He has given us so much."

Maradona is not expected to take charge of the team until after the friendly against Scotland on November 19, a game in which Under-21 boss Batista will probably oversee.

His first official game as coach should be a friendly against France on February 11.

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