Argentina legend and former national team manager Diego Maradona has offered to come back and coach La Albiceleste following their 4-2 friendly defeat to Nigeria on Tuesday evening.
Maradona took to Instagram after Argentina surrendered a 2-0 lead in Krasnodar, Russia, to lose their first match under incumbent boss Jorge Sampaoli.
“El Diego” compared his record to that of his peers dating back to the 1970s:
ESPN FC provided a translation of the caption, written in Spanish, which read: “Who wins more ?? Let’s draw our conclusions, I’m mad because they give away our prestige, but the players are not the ones to blame, I WANT TO RETURN !!!”
Maradona earned 91 caps for Argentina as a player and led the national team between 2008 and 2010, until he was sacked following their elimination from the 2010 World Cup at the quarter-final stage, per The Telegraph.
Jorge Sampaoli took over the helm in June, and while Tuesday’s loss to Nigeria may be the first blemish on his record, his side have won only four of the eight games he’s managed and only just qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The signs were already there that Argentina require a lot of fine-tuning if they’re to challenge for the World Cup, but South American football writer Peter Coates put that notion into new context on Tuesday:
Peter Coates @golazoargentino
Gol de Nigeria! Alex Iwobi again & Argentina now trail 4-2. Reminder that Sampaoli has a LOT to do before the World Cup (if anyone didn’t know)
With Lionel Messi absent, Sergio Aguero and Ever Banega supplied the goals that put Argentina two up against Nigeria, only for an Alex Iwobi brace to prove their undoing alongside goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and Brian Idowu.
Fans and coach alike will ask questions of the players’ resolve and their ability to retain a lead, although broadcaster Deji Faremi noted a fateful feeling around the friendly fixture:
Deji Faremi @deejayfaremi
Last time Argentina conceded 4 goals in a game was in June 2011.
They lost that game 4-1 to…Nigeria! https://t.co/qKwiV1dLBe
In any case, Argentina can only be so upset with the current management considering little was at stake on Tuesday with some key players missing, leading to Maradona’s plea ahead of the World Cup.
The 57-year-old hasn’t built his resume much since leaving the national-team helm seven years ago. He led United Arab Emirates outfit Al Wasl for one year and was appointed chief of second-tier UAE side Al-Fujairah following a five-year spell out of management.
And while “El Diego” may have his supporters as he looks to resume the position, it’s improbable Argentina will make such a late change, particularly to reappoint someone with a chequered past in the position.