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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Diego Maradona poised for first game as Argentina coach

Diego Maradona's extraordinary career comes full circle when Argentina face Scotland in a friendly at Hampden Park on Wednesday (8 p.m. British time).

There have been plentiful highs and lows, including a brush with death in 2004, since Maradona gave a scintillating performance as an 18-year-old in Argentina's 3-1 friendly win over the Scots in February 1979.

Whether Maradona, who lifted the World Cup in 1986, can have a positive impact as coach is the question being debated in Buenos Aires and around the world.

"Of course this is a new start. But I'm not looking at it as if I have to show things. I'm here to give my support, my experience to the national team," he said.

Wednesday's game will be closely monitored by the family of football and he will want it to go better than his World Cup debut as a player, a shock defeat for the-then holders against Belgium in the opening game of the 1982 finals in Spain.

For the moment, and in the absence of key players Lionel Messi and Juan Roman Riquelme, Maradona just wants some of his aura to rub off on this generation, having been an inspiration behind the scenes for their Olympic gold medal three months ago.

"As long as we've got the ball and we get some respect for the jersey I'll go away very calm," Maradona told reporters upon arrival in Glasgow.

"I'm not asking the lads for more, they've taken some knocks."

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