Diego Maradona

Seek­ing a re­birth in Mex­ico’s sec­ond tier

World Soccer - - Contents - John Holmes­dale

Asec­ond-tier club based in Si­naloa, home to one of Mex­ico’s most pow­er­ful drug car­tels, may not be the most ob­vi­ous place for Diego Maradona to re­launch his coach­ing ca­reer. But the 57-year-old Ar­gen­tinian in­sists he can bring suc­cess to Do­ra­dos de Si­naloa while restor­ing his own tar­nished rep­u­ta­tion at the same time.

Do­ra­dos play in Cu­li­a­can, the cap­i­tal of Si­naloa state in north-west Mex­ico that is home to the Si­naloa Car­tel, who are de­scribed by Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence as “Mex­ico’s most pow­er­ful or­gan­ised­crime group”.

Dur­ing his play­ing ca­reer, Maradona was dogged by al­le­ga­tions of co­caine ad­dic­tion and links to the mafia, no­tably in Italy when he was with Napoli.

“I made a lot of mis­takes in my life,” Maradona ad­mit­ted at his first press con­fer­ence in Mex­ico. “I want to give Do­ra­dos what I lost when I was sick.

“I was sick for 14 years. I was just con­sum­ing my­self. Now I want to see the sun, I want to go to bed at night. I never even used to go to bed. I didn’t even know what a pil­low was. That’s why I ac­cepted the of­fer from Do­ra­dos.”

Hir­ing Maradona was the brain­child of Jorge Al­berto Hank, the son of Jorge Hank Rhon, who is a for­mer mayor of Ti­juana and the son of the late Car­los Hank Gon­za­lez, one of Mex­ico’s wealth­i­est men. The fam­ily also owns top-flight side Club Ti­juana.

“I spoke with him [Maradona], ex­plained to him what it was about, who we are and where we want to go. I felt that he was con­vinced and de­ter­mined,” said Jorge Al­berto Hank. “It is not a cir­cus, it is about a sport­ing chal­lenge. We want Do­ra­dos to earn its pro­mo­tion.”

Af­ter ob­tain­ing a work per­mit via a trip to Gu­atemala, Maradona in­sisted Do­ra­dos would have his full at­ten­tion.

“I am here to work,” he says. “I am here to give my heart like I did in Fu­jairah [in United Arab Emi­rates], where I drove 300km a day to work.

“We are not here for a stroll. We didn’t come on va­ca­tion, we came to work...it will be great to win to­gether.”

It re­mains un­clear how Maradona will ful­fil his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to Dy­namo Brest, the Be­laru­sian club who ap­pointed him chair­man af­ter he left the UAE in April.

Since coach­ing Ar­gentina at the 2010 World Cup, Maradona has also held po­si­tions at UAE side Al Wasl and De­portivo Ries­tra, a lower-tier club in Buenos Aires.

“We are go­ing to look to win games, as I do not like to play de­fen­sive foot­ball,” adds Maradona. “When I took drugs it made me go back­wards, it was a step back, and what foot­ball play­ers have to do is go for­ward.”

The early signs are promis­ing and Do­ra­dos won their first game un­der his stew­ard­ship, 4-1 against Cafe­taleros de Ta­pachula, with Ecuado­rian striker Vini­cio An­gulo scor­ing a hat-trick.

But con­tro­versy is un­likely to ever be far away. The fol­low­ing day Maradona clashed with the me­dia, de­mand­ing pri­vacy af­ter he was filmed hav­ing lunch.

“When I took drugs it made me go back­wards, it was a step back, and what foot­ball play­ers have to do is go for­ward”

Suc­cess...cel­e­brat­ing against Cafe­taleros de Ta­pachula

Ac­knowl­edge­ment... coach and play­ers thank Do­ra­dos’ fans

Greet­ing...on his first day at train­ing

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