Maradona wants Argentina job back

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Diego Maradona cast his immense shadow over the Argentina team again on Friday when he said he would give his life to return to the helm and avenge their World Cup quarter-final humiliation.

"I'd give an arm to be back with the national team," Maradona, who was not retained by the Argentine Football Association (AFA) after Argentina's return from the South Africa finals. "I'd give my life to be the national team coach, I think I have a chance (of regaining the job)," he said.

"I'm thirsty for revenge," Maradona told Fox Sports in an exclusive interview televised at his plush home in the Buenos Aires suburb of Ezeiza, his first public comments since the AFA voted against giving him a new contract.

Argentina have since been under interim coach Sergio Batista, a former team-mate in the 1986 World Cup-winning team who was promoted from the youth team he steered to the gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

Batista, keen to be confirmed when the AFA decides later this year on the coach to take charge until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has presided over two wins in friendlies, 1-0 against Ireland and 4-1 against world champions Spain.


Rumours have been rife in the last two months about Maradona's future as a coach but he said he wants to carry on with the Argentina team and had presidential backing.

Maradona was a recent guest of President Cristina Fernandez and her husband, former head of state Nestor Kirchner, at the presidential residence.

"Kirchner told me he was a bit annoyed because there had been no decision to renew me (my contract) and that I had all his support. He also told me he and Cristina want me to coach the national team again," said Maradona.

The AFA wants to study a list of candidates, that has not been officially named, before making a decision although Batista appears to enjoy support from AFA president Julio Grondona.

World player of the year Lionel Messi also likes working under Batista having shared Olympic glory with him, but Maradona also praised the Barcelona forward, saying he was unlucky not to score at the World Cup.

"Messi lacked the good luck I had (in Mexico) in 86," Maradona said.

"He and (Spain's Andres) Iniesta were the best players at the World Cup, (Diego) Forlan was the most effective," he added of the Uruguay player voted the best of the finals.