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Maradona set to debut as Argentina coach


Rudraneil Sengupta,CNN-IBN
Nov 19, 2008 at 11:38pm IST

New Delhi: When Argentina face Scotland in a football friendly in Glasgow on Wednesday night, all eyes will be on a man off the pitch.

The match marks the debut of Diego Maradona as Argentina's coach and can he inspire the national squad the same way he did as a player?

He ruled the world of football once and the beautiful game has never seen anyone like Maradona.

GOD OF FOOTBALL? Argentina have never entered World Cup semis since Maradona led them to the 1990 final.

Several years and several incredible downfalls later, the God of Football now dons a new role - coach of the Argentine national squad and he seems to be enjoying it..

"Yes, you're absolutely right - and how! I was really enjoying it. It was great to be alongside the players. It would be great to get a place in the heart of the players. I've had to wait for my moment to arrive but now my time has come and I'm very, very happy," says Maradona.

Maradona is used to reaching for the skies. Argentina have never reached the top four of a World Cup since Maradona led the side to the final in 1990 and the new coach wants to get back on top..

"First and foremost it doesn't interest me to get into the top four. The only objective we have with this group of players is to finish first - that will be the aim and objective of Argentina. I know it's going to be a long hard road but we have a mission, we will be working together and we are going to have a collective experience on the way to South Africa, hopefully." he says.

In Scotland, Maradona got heroes welcome - even from the Scottish players. But the English are yet to forgive him for the infamous Hand of God - when he fisted in a goal against England in a quarter-final victory in the 1986 World Cup.

"I will remind the young lady that England won the World Cup in 1966 with a goal that never was - something that we all saw all over the world. And nobody said anything, history didn't change. So I don't think it's fair that anyone should judge me when stuff like that went on," he says.

So it's yet another return for Maradona in the world of football but can he make a mark in his new role?

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