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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 13 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Oct 31, 2008

Maradona ready for trip to Scotland and England

Diego Maradona will make trips to England and Scotland in the first month of his spell as Argentina manager.

The Argentina legend, whose 'Hand of God' goal helped his country eliminate England in the 1986 World Cup, will jet in to meet Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano this weekend.

It is unclear whether he will see either in action - Tevez could be involved for Manchester United in their home match against Hull, while Mascherano is expected to be on duty for Liverpool at Tottenham.

His arrival is sure to spark plenty of interest, as should his debut as Argentina boss in Scotland next month.

Maradona, who celebrated his 48th birthday, has announced he will be in charge for the friendly against Scotland at Hampden Park on November 19.

There was some disappointment for the Tartan Army when it emerged Maradona will not select brilliant Barcelona forward Lionel Messi for the match, due to a gentlemen's agreement with the 21-year-old's club.

The Argentinian FA agreed Messi could miss the match as a goodwill gesture to Barcelona, who released the player to perform for his country at the Olympics.

But the news Maradona is set to be on the opposite bench to Scotland boss George Burley should generate plenty of excitement ahead of the Glasgow fixture, and ensure a full house.

Maradona said: "I will travel to England on Saturday to see Tevez and Mascherano.

"And in Scotland I will make my debut."

The Argentinian FA board will be asked to ratify Maradona's appointment on Tuesday, but that is thought to be a formality in the procedure to install the country's greatest footballer in the national team's top job.

It had been anticipated Maradona would travel to Scotland for next month's match, but watch from the stands.

Sergio Batista - who coaches the Argentina Under-20 team as well as guiding the Olympic side - had been lined up to be at the helm.

But Maradona is eager to lead the team, and has pledged to bring a strong squad to Scotland, even if Messi misses out.

The precocious young forward may be glad not to face a return to the city where last year he endured a miserable night at Ibrox.

Messi accused Rangers of playing "anti-football" when Barcelona faced Walter Smith's side in the Champions League last October, in a match that finished goalless.

He did appear again in Glasgow in February this year, when he scored twice in a more open match as Barcelona beat Celtic 3-2 in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Maradona, who has overcome drug and weight problems, will have Carlos Bilardo, the boss of Argentina's 1986 and 1990 World Cup teams, as a technical director on his staff.

Maradona was the key man in Bilardo's side at both World Cups. Argentina won the 1986 tournament and reached the final four years later.

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