Diego Maradona is looking forward to the challenge of getting Fujairah back into the Arabian Gulf League, after signing a one-year deal with the second division side on Sunday.
The Wolves were relegated to the second tier last season and failed to bounce back this year after finishing fourth.
They have now acquired the services of the legendary Argentine 1986 World Cup winner in the hope his star status can impact upon the players.
“I am very happy to be back in training,” said Maradona, who was last in charge of Dubai-based Al Wasl for a season five years ago.
“Through the meeting with club officials I have found great optimism in their words and a strong desire to return Fujairah to the professional world, as well as an interest in the youth sector of the club to be the mainstay of the team next season.”
Fujairah chairman Shaikh Maktoum Bin Hamad Al Sharqi said: “The signing of Diego Maradona marks the beginning of a new phase of great ambitions to build a team that has all the ingredients to qualify not only to the professional league but to also stay there.
“It is a great achievement not only for the club, but for football in general, and it’s a great addition to the excitement of the amateur league, as well as attracting fans and media.”
Fujairah will hold a press conference to unveil Maradona at the club on Saturday. In the meantime the former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli forward, who is widely regarded as the greatest footballer ever, has flown to Bahrain for the Fifa Congress to collect an award from Fifa president Gianni Infantino.
News first broke of Maradona’s signing late on Sunday night when the 56-year-old posted a picture of himself next to the Fujairah logo holding the club’s shirt emblazoned with his name and former playing number ‘10’, with the words: “I want to tell you that I’m the new technical director of Fujairah, of the second division of United Arab Emirates. These are my new colours.”
Fujairah then tweeted a picture of Maradona with shirt, which said: “Official: the new coach of Fujairah.”
Although successful as a player, winning the 1986 World Cup with Argentina and two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990 and the 1989 Uefa Cup with Napoli, he has so far failed to follow that up in management.
Two uneventful stints in charge of Argentine clubs Mandiyu de Corrientes and Racing Club in the mid-1990s preceded a two-year spell with Argentina from 2008 when he led them to the 2010 World Cup. However, he failed to get them beyond the quarter-finals in South Africa losing 4-0 to Germany and was sacked.
He then joined Dubai side Al Wasl on a two-year deal in 2011, but the club finished eighth in the league and lost the final of the GCC Champions League on penalties despite being 3-1 up after the first leg away to Bahrain’s Al Muharraq. He was sacked at the end of one season but stayed on in Dubai as an ambassador for Dubai Sports Council.
By Ashley Hammond
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