Maradona to get Argentina job next week
BUENOS AIRES, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Diego Maradona, expected to be named Argentina coach in the next few days, said he laughed off suggestions he was too inexperienced for the job.
One of the game's greatest players, and also one of its most troubled and volatile, Maradona is expected to get the job despite having had only two short coaching stints in the mid-1990s totalling 23 games.
"People have spoken a lot about experience but I have had 20 years with the Argentina national side," said Maradona, who captained his country to World Cup victory in 1986 but was kicked out of the finals in 1994 after failing a doping test.
"So it makes me laugh when they say I'm inexperienced," added Maradona, who since retiring has fought off drug addiction, alcohol-related liver disease and obesity and at one stage four years ago spent 10 days in intensive care.
"Football hasn't changed," he added, speaking to reporters outside his Buenos Aires home. "I don't think there's anything there that can surprise me."
Maradona added that the presence of World Cup-winning coach Carlos Bilardo as general manager would compensate for any inexperience.
"I have Bilardo at my side and he has as much experience as anyone," Maradona said.
"I think they have given this to me at the right moment," he added when asked if he was now more mature.
Maradona played down comparisons with former Brazil captain Dunga, who was appointed coach of his country's national team after the 2006 World Cup despite having no previous experience.
Dunga, a hard-tackling midfielder, won the Copa America last year but has been fiercely criticised for his team's recent displays.
"I didn't play like Dunga - he kicked, I didn't," said Maradona.
Maradona will be confirmed as the new Argentina coach next Tuesday, according to Argentinian Football Association national team secretary Luis Segura.
''The appointment will be official when the AFA's Committee approves it. And the next meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday.'' said Segura.''I believe there will not be any more meetings with the other candidates.''
Segura did confirm Sergio Batista will be in charge for the November 19 friendly against Scotland in Glasgow.
Earlier, 1986 World Cup winner 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. 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 I have. My job will be watching the players and picking up the ones who are in the best form.''