Maradona wants to take Iraq to World Cup finals

BUENOS AIRES Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:58am IST

Argentine former soccer star Diego Maradona shouts during the Davis Cup World Group tennis match between Juan Monaco of Argentina and Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic in Buenos Aires September 14, 2012. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian/Files

Argentine former soccer star Diego Maradona shouts during the Davis Cup World Group tennis match between Juan Monaco of Argentina and Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic in Buenos Aires September 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Enrique Marcarian/Files

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Diego Maradona is on the brink of becoming coach of Iraq and wants to take the country to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, Argentine agent Hernan Tofoni told Reuters on Thursday.

Maradona, who is acting as a consultant for the UAE club Al Wasl that he used to coach, is awaiting the outcome of a meeting of the Iraqi Football Federation to be held on Friday to discuss the Argentine's candidacy for their vacancy.

"Diego is really enthused and phones us every day. He doesn't just want to coach (Iraq) for the next six months but long term," said Tofoni, who is heading up talks with Iraq for the Argentine company World Eleven.

"He is excited by the fact that it's a challenge and that he'd be going to replace Zico," added Tofoni, referring to the Brazil great who quit as Iraq's coach last month.

Tofoni, a registered FIFA agent, said he put Maradona's name on the table when Iraq approached World Eleven looking for an Argentine coach and "they liked the idea".

He said there would be no obstacles for Maradona to leave Al Wasl, where he coached for 14 months until last July, to take up the Iraqi post.

Iraq have played at one World Cup finals, in 1986 in Mexico where Maradona led Argentina to their second title.

The Middle Eastern nation are third in Group B in the fourth round of Asian World Cup qualifiers. Japan lead with 13 points from five matches, while Iraq are equal on five points with second-placed Australia, who have a match in hand, and Oman.

The 52-year-old Maradona, one of the greatest players, has a modest record as coach.

Although he led Argentina to the World Cup finals in 2010, his side lost 4-0 to Germany in the quarter-finals. (Writing by Rex Gowar in London, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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