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Diego Maradona: set for Iraq?

By Paul Andrews



Some stories are so preposterous, so laden with humour, that they might have formed in the mind of a Hollywood screenwriter. How about this one: Diego Maradona is reportedly interested in becoming the new head coach of Iraq's national football team.

The World Cup winner with Argentina has been out of work since leaving Al Wasl earlier this year, and the gulf nation role has been vacant since Zico resigned in November. The Iraqi Football Association (IFA) has moved for the former Napoli star, who could take charge until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Iraqi football has never been easy to predict. Their success at the 2007 Asian Cup was as surprising as their failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Maradona is equally unpredictable. The finest player of all time, he has never shown the intelligence necessary to became a great manager.

"Two days ago we received the offer and Diego is interested," Hernan Tofoni of World Eleven, the organisation that handles the Argentine legend's affairs, said. "He wants to coach again, but we are still to reach an agreement that suits both parties. However, both he and the Federation are very excited. Between tomorrow and Sunday we will come to a conclusion. The IFA's idea is that Maradona's contract, in principle, will last six months. If he does well they could extend his contract until after the World Cup."

Iraq have reached the World Cup finals just once, in 1986 in Mexico. They currently lie third in Group B in the fourth round of Asian World Cup qualifiers, behind Japan and Australia. Maradona would need to take Iraq to the 2014 World Cup if he hopes to restore his reputation.

Hold on to your hats.