Last updated: 21 December, 2012

Maradona interested in Iraq job

Argentina legend Diego Maradona is in talks to become the Iraqi national team’s new coach for its World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign, his agent has revealed.

“We have received the offer. We contacted Maradona and he gave us his approval. We will meet the executive committee of the Iraqi football federation on Friday to discuss financial terms,” said Hernan Toffoni, from the World Eleven agency.

Toffoni told reporters in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires on Thursday that a decision would be taken “in a matter of hours” and said that he was optimistic of an outcome because of the enthusiasm shown by the both Iraqis and Maradona himself.

A potential stumbling block, though, is whether Maradona can secure the approval of the authorities in the United Arab Emirates, where is an honorary ambassador of sports in Dubai, after being sacked in July as manager of Al-Wasl.

“The president of the Iraqi (football) federation has called a meeting of the executive committee on Friday to formalise the financial offer to ensure that Diego is the new coach before the end of 2012,” Toffoni added.

If the deal is accepted and he is given permission to leave, Maradona will replace Brazilian star Zico, who quit as Iraq’s head coach last month.

Iraq, currently 92nd in FIFA’s latest world rankings published this week, are still in the running to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and are third in Group B of the Asia Zone final qualifiers with five points from five games.

They are trailing second-placed Australia only on goal difference.

The top two teams qualify directly for the finals while the third-place team goes into a play-off system.

Another possibility for Maradona is that he could join the team as a consultant in the Gulf Cup, which takes place in Bahrain and Kuwait on January 5-18.

Maradona, 52, is one of the greatest players in the game and scored 34 goals in 91 appearances for the south Americans.

He was captain when Argentina won the 1986 World Cup in Mexico against West Germany and four years later in Italy, when the result was reversed.