Maradona sacked by UAE club Al Wasl
Legendary footballer Diego Maradona was sacked by Al-Wasl after 14 months in charge on Tuesday. His status was always in doubt as he had failed to win any silverware in his time in charge with the Dubai-based club. His departure was preceeded by the leave of Al-Wasl chairman, Marwan bin Bayat who was a staunch supporter and believer of Maradona’s coaching. Following the former chairman’s departure, the board had left as well and Al-Wasl is now under the hands of a new board.
Maradona was initially bought in to be a refreshing face at Al-Wasl. His image was to help motivate players, increase team-chemistry as well as help bring in skilled foreign and domestic players at the club. Despite these advantages, Al-Wasl slipped in from sixth to eighth place in the 12-team UAE Pro League. They did however make the finals of Gulf Champions league but ended up losing to the Bahraini club Al-Muharraq. They also reached the semi-finals of the UAE League Cup but lost to Al-Ahli.
Maradona’s ability as a player has and never will be questioned but his coaching career goes in stark contrast to this. He coached a two clubs in his home country of Argentina during the mid 90’s namely Mandiyu and Racing Club but failed to create an impact there. He then led Argentina during the 2010 World Cup finals but spectacularly lost to a brilliant German side in the Quarter-Finals with a final score of 4-0.
He made one move that perhaps blighted his entire reign at Al-Wasl during the loss against Al-Muharraq when he included goalkeeper Majid Nasser who was serving a 17 match ban for slapping Al-Ahli coach Quique Flores. Despite this bold move, Majid’s inclusion was a complete disaster as he was sent off for head-butting an opposing player despite Al-Wasl holding on 3-1 lead from the first leg of the finals.
For all of these anti-climactic shortcomings, Maradona blamed a lack of transfer funds for which he was then reprimanded by then Al-Wasl Chairman, Marwan bin Hayat.
The highlights of Maradona’s one season in charge are as follows:
- By finishing 8th in the UAE Pro League at the end of the season, Al Wasl has matched its all-time worst position in the League.
- Al Wasl’s Goalkeeper Majed Nasser received a 17-match ban and been fined AED 30,000 (€6,200) after slapping Al-Ahli’s coach Quique Flores after the semi-final of the Etisalat Cup.
- Al Wasl was fined 5 times and received 3 Home Match ban punishments from the U.A.E Football association totaling 6 games.
- Al Wasl ended the first leg of the UAE Pro-League with a 5 match winning drought. It ended the second leg of the tournament with an even worse 6 matches winning drought.
- Al Wasl played Dubai Club, the recently promoted and relegation contender, 4 times in the 2011-2012 season. It lost them (0-5, 1-2, 0-3, and 2-5) Scoring 3 and conceding 15.
All in all, quite frankly, Maradona gave Al-Wasl what probably is their worst ever season till date. He did however manage to sign skilled Chilean international Edson Puch and under a new manager he could prove to be a revelation on the attack along with Ricardo Oliviera.
Anyway, as a footballing legend and a genuinely nice person one can’t help but wish him best of luck. His whereabouts currently are not known publicly, all we’ve been told is that he’s holidaying somewhere in Argentina.