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Volume 6 No. 192
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Maradona Says He Wanted To Stay At Al Wasl; Club Is Moving On

Sacked Al Wasl club Manager Diego Maradona "has broken his silence" about his dismissal from the Pro-League side and insists "he still wants to remain at the club," according to THE NATIONAL. Maradona disputed the club's announcement that he had been removed after "a comprehensive study of all technical aspects." Maradona said that he still hoped to meet with the new Al Wasl board to discuss his future with the club, even after his dismissal -- and hinted issues around transfer signings may have played a part in his exit (THE NATIONAL, 7/12). REUTERS' Brian Murgatroyd reported that Maradona has been invited to a "farewell ceremony." The club added that the ceremony would "reflect the unique and strong relationship" between them and the mercurial Argentine. Al Wasl Vice-Chair Mohammed bin Dokhan said, "We have not decided on a timeframe [for the ceremony] and it depends on Maradona's response." (REUTERS, 7/12).

MARADONA RESPONSE: Maradona released a statement that read: "Unfortunately the new board has made a public statement I do not agree with, as my wish was and is to respect my two year contract in Al Wasl. In case our economic restrictions do not allow us invest so heavily in players, there has and will always exist alternative smart and more conservative options to be discussed with the new management." It continued: "I hope to have a meeting in the coming days with the new board, in order to discuss and clarify all these topics, and I’m absolutely sure we will be able to reach good solution for all, especially for the Al Wasl team" (GULF NEWS, 7/12).

TOUGH DECISION: In Dubai, Ahmed Rizvi reported that bin Dokhan claimed Al Wasl officials "got no joy out of their decision to terminate" Maradona's contract. Bin Dokhan said, "On a personal basis we were not happy to terminate his contract but we said we should keep the emotional feelings towards the decision out of it." Former UAE national team coach Bruno Metsu is "at the forefront of likely candidates" to replace Maradona. Former Al Ahli FC and Al Ain FC boss Winfried Schafer has also "put his name on the table." The agents of the Scotsman Walter Smith, and Englishmen Tony Adams and Paul Ince "have also expressed their interest" (THE NATIONAL, 7/11).

NEVER A DULL MOMENT: In Dubai, Gautam Bhattacharyya opined that Maradona "could be funny, rude or even exasperating at the same time." However, "there was never a dull moment." The writing was "very much on the wall" for the better part of last season." There is no place for a coach "who is a failure, even if he is El Diego." The club has timed their decision "to go for a new manager well." There are two full months left until the season begins. They will go for "a high profile name to boost the morale of the fans." But surely "it will not be easy for them to settle down into life after Maradona" (GULF NEWS, 7/13).