BUENOS AIRES, (Reuters) – Diego Maradona, unhappy with interference in his job as Argentina coach, will review his position after their final World Cup qualifier away to Uruguay in Montevideo next week, he said yesterday.
Maradona said his appointment a year ago had made him “the happiest guy in the world, but then things happened that I didn’t like.”
“If I carry on, it will be on my terms,” Maradona told reporters after a squad practice, adding he would discuss the job with Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona.
Local media said Maradona, whose team are in danger of failing to qualify for the 2010 finals in South Africa, was unhappy that technical director Carlos Bilardo had taken decisions without consulting him.
Bilardo, coach when Argentina won the World Cup in 1986, reportedly publicised a squad list of home-based players for a friendly against Ghana last week without consulting Maradona.
Maradona returned from a 10-day break in Italy and in a tacit rebuff of Bilardo told reporters he was in sole charge and “no-one imposes players on me”.
He has been under pressure since his team faltered in the qualifiers, going down to three successive defeats against Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay.
Argentina face Peru in Buenos Aires on Saturday and Uruguay away on Wednesday of next week with qualification for the 2010 finals hanging in the balance.
Maradona has been criticised for a lack of team strategy and selection consistency.
But in a typically dramatic remark, he said he had inherited a team “with lots of yellows (cards) and we filled up with more yellows because we were playing for our lives.”
Maradona’s anger came to the surface when asked about a muscle injury to Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta, who arrived in Buenos Aires yesterday morning with striker Carlos Tevez after they played in a Premier League match on Monday.
He had wanted the pair not to play the match against Aston Villa to avoid injuries.
“We missed the boat. Someone should have travelled (to England) to bring them. We have two very important matches and it hurts me a lot, but we have to live with it,” Maradona said.
Argentina are fifth in the South American group, a position valid for a playoff with the team finishing fourth in the CONCACAF region. Only the top four qualify automatically.