Agreement on new deals at Fujairah for Diego Maradon and Luis Islas is still some distance away
Fujairah are struggling to convince Argentina legend Diego Maradona and assistant Luis Islas to make a return to the Arabian Gulf League-hopefuls, more than 24 hours after they prematurely announced the pair had agreed fresh one-year contracts.
The volatile Wolves chose on Friday to part ways with the World Cup 1986 winners, who’d led them to an unprecedented undefeated season. This surprise development came within hours of a 1-1 draw with 10-man Khor Fakkan that caused the First Division League-outfit to drop out of the automatic spots in the final round and into this month’s promotion play-offs.
This rash decision was, seemingly, met with immediate regret and a shock extension was announced on Monday night via the club’s official Twitter account. Yet, further confusion immediately followed when the FIFA Player of the Century’s lawyer – Matias Morla – stated “that to this day, Diego Maradona did not renew his contract”.
Complex negotiations have continued between the parties. But the Wolves are yet to make a convincing case for the duo to agree comebacks in time for the vital double header on May 9 and 13 against Hatta – the top-flight’s bottom-placed team.
Reverberations followed across the globe last May when Maradona agreed a one-year deal to return to the dugout on the UAE’s east coast. He was previously dismissed by Al Wasl in July 2012 midway through a two-year arrangement after a trophyless campaign.
The ex-Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli icon’s ambitious new employers had just finished a distant fourth during their opening campaign back in the second division, suffering eight losses.
A positive transformation swiftly followed at Fujairah Stadium under the incoming regime.
Beyond a top-three finish in their division and 10 more points gained than 2016/17, a creditable 4-2 loss was recorded last month against runaway AGL champions Al Ain in the President’s Cup quarter-finals.
Maradona – who commuted more than 350 kilometres daily from Palm Jumeirah – was only hamstrung by a profligate attack. A total of 11 draws were registered, with penalties being missed in their last four fixtures.
This allowed Ittihad Kalba to usurp them on the final day for second place and join champions Bani Yas as guaranteed entrants into the 2018/19 top fight.
Fujairah’s fit of pique has left them scrambling for options ahead of their upcoming two-legged decider.
An approach to Dibba Al Fujairiah’s Brazilian tactician Paulo Comelli was rejected during the weekend.
They have also undertaken discussion with ex-Czech Republic midfielder Ivan Hasek. The 54-year-old saved Fujairah from relegation in 2014/15, but was sacked in March 2016 with the team bound for the FDL.