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Maradona says he turned down offer to coach Venezuela

Buenos Aires, Jan 25 (IANS) Diego Maradona has said he declined an offer from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to coach the country’s national men’s football team.

Maradona, currently the manager of Argentinian Superliga side Gimnasia, met Maduro in Caracas on Tuesday, less than a month after Rafael Dudamel quit as Venezuela’s head coach, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Maduro offered me the national team (job) but I told him that I have a commitment with Gimnasia,” Maradona told reporters before his team’s home Superliga clash with Velez Sarsfield on Friday.

“I couldn’t let the lads and the people down. There was no possibility that I would leave here,” he added.

Venezuela have been without a head coach since January 3, when Dudamel resigned to take charge of Brazilian Serie A club Atletico Mineiro.

Maradona, who almost single-handedly guided Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, has a contract with Gimnasia until May. The 59-year-old has said that his main priority is to help the club avoid relegation to Argentinian football’s second tier.

Multiple news reports in Argentina cited Maradona’s absence from Gimnasia’s first training sessions of the year as evidence that he might be appointed Venezuela’s head coach.

The Venezuelan Football Federation is hoping to name a new manager before South America’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers begin in March.

–IANS

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