DUBAI: Former Argentina World Cup-winning captain Diego Maradona has been sacked as coach of United Arab Emirates club Al Wasl.
The 51-year-old, who agreed a two-year contract with Al Wasl in May 2011, was dismissed following a meeting of the club's board on Tuesday. “Following a meeting held by the board of directors of Al Wasl Football Company to evaluate the technical staff of Al Wasl under the leadership of coach Diego Maradona, it was decided to terminate the services of coach Diego Maradona and his technical staff,” a club statement said.
Speculation had been rife that Maradona's days as coach were numbered following the resignation of the club's board in June and its replacement with a new one.
That change brought about the departure of chairman Marwan bin Bayat, a man who had supported Maradona.
However, after the first meeting of the new board last month, its chairman Dr Mohammed Ahmad bin Fahad, was quoted in the UAE newspaper The National saying:
“Maradona is the head coach of the Al Wasl team and he will continue for the next season. He will have complete authority over the programme for the next season. There is no change in his position.”
Al Wasl failed to win any silverware under Maradona during his season at the helm, slipping to eighth in the 12-team UAE Pro League from sixth the previous season.
They also lost in the final of the Gulf Champions League to Bahrain side Al Muharraq and enjoyed little success in domestic cup competitions.
Under Maradona, Al Wasl were knocked out of the UAE league cup at the semi-final stage by Al Ahli, the eventual winners, and failed to progress past the second round of the President's Cup.
Maradona's sacking continued his modest record as a coach, in complete contrast to his playing career.
Maradona led his country to the 1986 World Cup and enjoyed domestic title successes in Argentina, Italy and Spain but as a coach he has yet to achieve any such highs.
He had brief spells with Mandiyu and Racing Club in his home country in 1994 and 1995 respectively but neither proved fruitful, and although he led Argentina to the World Cup finals in 2010 his side, including Lionel Messi, lost 4-0 to Germany in the quarter-finals.
Maradona's judgment at Al Wasl had been questioned through his decision to select goalkeeper Majid Naser for matches in the Gulf Champions League despite the player being in the middle of a 17-match domestic ban for slapping Al Ahli coach Quique Sanchez Flores after a match between the two sides.
Majid's inclusion in the side that faced Al Muharraq proved disastrous as he was sent off for head-butting an opponent and Al Wasl went on the lose the tie despite holding a 3-1 lead after the first leg in Bahrain.
A club spokesman could not confirm Maradona's whereabouts and whether or not he had been contacted with the news of his sacking.
“There is nothing to be added at the moment,” he said.
Media reports said Maradona was on holiday in Argentina.