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Argentina Names Maradona New Soccer Coach

Posted October. 30, 2008 09:19,   


Argentine soccer icon Diego Maradona is the new coach of his country’s national team, news reports said yesterday.

The Argentinean Football Association made the decision in a meeting of Maradona and Carlos Bilardo, who coached Maradona and Argentina to win the 1986 Mexico World Cup.

Maradona, 48, will take over for Alfio Basile, 65, who resigned Oct. 17 over the team’s poor performance in World Cup qualifiers.

A national hero in Argentina, Maradona was the leading scorer in the 1986 World Cup in leading his country to its second title.

After scoring the infamous “Hand of God” goal in a quarterfinal against England, he dodged six defenders over 60 meters to net the greatest goal of the 20th century.

Maradona is usually ranked behind Pele as the two best soccer players of the 20th century.

His career faltered after the 1986 World Cup. In the 1990 competition in Italy, he was hobbled by an ankle injury as Argentina lost in the final, a rematch with Germany.

The following year, he tested positive in a doping test and was banned for 15 months. In the middle of the 1994 World Cup, he was kicked out after testing positive for a banned substance.

From then on, he was involved in a series of mishaps including assault and battery, alcoholism and obesity that forced him to cut part of his stomach and undergo heart surgery.

Since 2005, he has gotten back on his feet, hosting a TV show and playing futsal.

Argentina faces a dire situation in World Cup qualifying. It is in third place with four wins, four losses and two ties, trailing Paraguay and Brazil. Argentina has failed to win in its last five qualifiers, which ultimately forced Basile to resign.