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Maradona to make managerial debut against Scotland

Argentina coach Diego Maradona will make his managerial debut in a friendly against Scotland in Glasgow on November 19, the Argentinian football federation said on Thursday.

Maradona was confirmed as the new coach on Monday to replace Alfio Basile, who resigned after a World Cup qualifying defeat to Chile left them trailing group leaders Paraguay.

The Glasgow event is a fitting one for the former Barcelona and Napoli star, who celebrates his 48th birthday on Thursday.

It was here almost three decades ago that he scored his first international goal on a balmy June night in 1979, as the South Americans cruised to a 3-1 friendly win.

Maradona has no top level coaching experience, but is thought to have convinced selectors with his pledge to return the national team to the heady highs of when he was its captain.

The dark-haired maestro on Thursday said he would be travelling to England on Saturday to watch the Argentinian stars who play in the Premier League.

Maradona told a press conference that he was “going to the country against whom I scored two goals (a 2-1 victory in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final) and also to Scotland.

“I am travelling to England on Saturday to watch (Carlos) Tevez and (Javier) Mascherano play. And in Scotland I am going to make my coaching debut.”

A glittering career at national level brought Maradona a World Cup winners medal in Mexico in 1986 – the same tournament as the infamous 'Hand of God' incident against England in the quarter-finals.

He was also part of the team that came runners-up four years later in Italy after a shameful 1-0 defeat against West Germany which saw two of their players sent-off.

His appointment has met with mixed response. Lionel Messi, whom Maradona openly criticised earlier this year, said he was looking forward to establishing a problem-free relationship with the legend.

Brazilian giant Pele wished Maradona well, but highlighted his past health problems – and more significantly his checkered past with drugs, which lead to two footballing bans.

“I hope that everything goes well for him and that he'll be able to overcome what's happened in the past and that he'll know how to manage the Argentine players well,” said Pele.

Maradona's next match in charge will be a friendly against France in Marseille on February 11.

Thu 30 October, 2008
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