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Al Wasl deny Maradona U-turn

Argentine legend not among names to replace ill Metsu

Gulf News

Dubai: Diego Maradona is not about to make a dramatic return to coach Al Wasl, according to the club, despite the fact his successor Bruno Metsu has resigned due to ill health.

Metsu replaced Maradona in July but the 58-year-old Frenchman was forced to leave his post on Thursday after being diagnosed with stomach cancer mid-month. Gilles Morisseau, Metsu’s assistant, has been placed in temporary charge, but it is undecided as to whether he will be offered the job on a permanent basis.

Word of the Argentine legend’s return – however improbable - has been fuelled by the fact that he has maintained good relations with his former employers after taking up an ambassadorial role for Dubai Sports Council. He also still holds residence in Jumeirah.

Once news of Metsu’s resignation came out, El Diego became the unlikeliest of likelihoods to succeed at the club where seemingly anything could now happen. Other names previously linked to the job following Maradona’s sacking include Harry Redknapp, Sven Goran Eriksson, Gianfranco Zola, Marcelo Lippi and Jan Versleijan. But most of these free agents are now already re-assigned.

A spokesman for the club has refused to rule out the possibility of the board reverting back to the CVs of unsuccessful candidates from the time Metsu was appointed, but he adamantly denied that Maradona would be making a comeback anytime soon.

Team manager Humaid Yousuf tweeted on Friday: “News of the re-appointment of Maradona as coach of Al Wasl is incorrect. Please only refer to club news via the club’s official media office.”

A spokesman for the club added: “It’s just a rumour that Maradona is coming back. There’s no truth in this. It’s just a story for the sake of a story. Honestly speaking, the board is happy with Gilles Morisseau and they are not contemplating a replacement at this moment in time. As things stand Morisseau is still in charge at least until January or even the end of the season. There are no names currently being reviewed for the job.”

In just five league and cup matches under Metsu’s leadership Al Wasl won two, drew two and lost one. Morisseau has since led the club to two wins in two following Metsu’s hospitalisation, not including Sunday night’s clash with Al Dhafra [result unknown at the time of print].

However, Morisseau’s relative inexperience as a first team coach, having mainly assisted, throws serious doubt on his ability to take the club forward long-term, without Metsu’s input. This may force the club to pursue other options.