Mascherano to captain Maradona's Argentina

BUENOS AIRES - Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano has agreed to captain Argentina under new coach Diego Maradona. "I've convinced him," Maradona told Radio La Red after returning from a six-day trip to Europe during which he visited a number of his top players. "I explained to him what I thought about him and told him what I thought he could give the team." Mascherano, 24, initially said he did not feel ready to take on the responsibility. Maradona is also hoping to make former defender Oscar Ruggeri his assistant despite media reports of opposition from Argentina Football Association president Julio Grondona. "I don't think Oscar's impossible," said Maradona. The choice of his assistant has already become a hot topic. At one stage Maradona said Jose Luis Brown and Sergio Batista, team mates from the 1986 World Cup-winning side, would take on the role. But he then changed his mind, saying the decision was not final. Ruggeri's recent coaching record would make him a controversial choice. He resigned at Mexico's Tecos UAG after losing his first six games in 2003, then took charge of Independiente in his homeland before resigning four months later after being jeered and insulted by fans at a home game. In 2004 he went to Spanish second division club Elche but was fired after 20 games. He returned to Mexico and joined America, the country's richest club, and this time lasted six matches. Ruggeri's last coaching job was with San Lorenzo in 2006 where he was again fired after poor results including a 7-1 home defeat by Boca Juniors.