New Delhi: Football legend Diego Armando Maradona has been appointed as the new coach of the Argentina national team.
Maradona had been in a four-way tussle with Carlos Bianchi, Miguel Angel Russo and Sergio Batista to take over from Alfio Basile, who resigned a fortnight ago after a World Cup qualifying defeat to Chile.
Earlier on Tuesday evening there was speculation that Maradona may win the race and now it has been confirmed that El Pibe d'Oro has indeed been appointed as the new national team coach of Argentina.
Although many expected one of the three other candidates to be his assistant, the responsibility will be given to Carlos Bilardo, who coached Argentina when Maradona guided them to the 1986 World Cup.
"We just had a meeting, we are happy about what was said for the Argentine national team," stated Maradona.
Although AFA president Julio Grondona has yet to announce it to the press, reports suggest that the official presentation will take place on October 30, when Maradona turns 48 years old.
"I can't open the present yet, we have to wait because we have to continue to talk," the 1986 World Cup winner affirmed in declarations to radio La Red.
Maradona also stated that he will be the only person in charge to select who plays for the national team: "I will choose the team, I will be the only one to do so. Of course I will be listening to Carlos (Bilardo) in everything, because you can't avoid listening to a man who knows so much."
"I think the project will be exactly how Julio (Grondona) would like it, in what I want, and in what Carlos wants," added Maradona.
When asked who his coaching team will consist of, he said: "I still have to choose my right hand. I have to talk to Checho (Batista) and with Tata Brown. Afterwards we will decide with Carlos."
The former coach of Deportivo Mandiyu and Racing Club also stated that he will take the players who play in the local Argentine competition into consideration: "We have been talking about this, the directors know this very well. When the national team needs it, the directors have to put on the Argentina shirt. With that base we will do well."
Maradona admitted that he has to put a "winning mentality" into the heads of all Argentine players, those who ply their trade in the domestic Argentine competition, as well as those in Europe.
Grondona called Maradona on Tuesday, after "El Diez" arrived from Tiflis, Georgia, and soon he notified him that he would replace Alfio Basile as the new coach of Argentina.
Maradona will sign a contract that will expire after the end of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, of course with an option for an extension, depending on his performance.
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