BUENOS AIRES - Diego Maradona, appointed Argentina coach last week, could quit if he does not get his way over his choice of assistant, Argentine media said on Wednesday. Maradona, one of football's greatest players and one of its most volatile, has reportedly run into a deadlock with Argentina Football Association (AFA) president Julio Grondona over his choice of assistant. Maradona, due to make his debut in next Wednesday's friendly away to Scotland, has said he wants to appoint former team mate Oscar Ruggeri, a personal rival of Grondona. Grondona, who has voiced his opposition to the idea, refused to comment on the situation on Wednesday but admitted outside AFA headquarters that he was not on good terms with Ruggeri. "I don't like his face," said Grondona as he forced his way through a crowd of reporters to his car. "It's a personal thing." The row erupted only three days before Maradona is due to leave for Scotland. Argentina cable television station TyC Sports said Maradona had met his general manager and former coach Carlos Bilardo earlier on Wednesday and sent a message to Grondona insisting he be allowed to appoint Ruggeri as his assistant. Other media, including the TN cable news channel and the website of daily newspaper Clarin (www.clarin.com), also reported on the meeting and ultimatum. Several websites and television channels said Maradona could ultimately resign over the matter. TyC said a meeting was due to be held on Thursday between the AFA and Maradona. SURPRISE REPLACEMENT Maradona, 48, was named as the surprise replacement for Alfio Basile last week, capping a remarkable personal recovery after years in which he battled drug addiction, alcohol abuse and obesity. Critics questioned whether the notoriously impulsive and temperamental 1986 World Cup winner was suitable for the high-pressure job. Maradona, banned three times during his playing career for doping offences, has had only two brief stints as coach in the 1990s. He had intitially announced that former 1986 World Cup team mates Sergio Batista and Jose Luis Brown would work as his joint assistants but backtracked during his official presentation. Ruggeri has had a series of unhappy coaching experiences in the last five years.
12 November 2008
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