Football

Maradona lashes out at Sampaoli

Diego Maradona has criticised the appointment of Jorge Sampaoli as Argentina coach, saying the Copa America winning-coach was no better than his disappointing predecessor Edgardo Bauza, who was sacked after recording only three wins in eight games.

The 57-year-old Sampaoli, who took over earlier this month, has led Argentina to victory in his first two games, but that was not good enough for Maradona.

"Sampaoli doesn't know any more than Bauza," Maradona told Argentine channel TyC on Monday.

"If he (Sampaoli) hadn't beaten us in the (2015 Copa America) final (while coaching) Chile, then not even his family would know who he was."

Sampaoli's decision to leave out Manchester City's Sergio Aguero for the friendlies against Brazil and Singapore also angered him.

Said Maradona: "It was madness leaving out Kun (Aguero). Kun gives you much more speed, he brings electricity."

Maradona was hurt that Sampaoli invited him to Sevilla when he was coaching the Spanish team but did not follow through in his invitation to honour the 1986 World Cup winner, who once played for Sevilla, with a tribute game.

"Sampaoli was fake with me," Maradona said from his home in the United Arab Emirates, where he coaches Al-Fujairah.

"He told me they were going to give me a tribute in Seville. Then the national team came up and I never heard any more from him."

Maradona also waded into the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo debate, saying that he prefers Messi, although he also dubbed Ronaldo an "incredible player".

Said Maradona, who said he wished Ronaldo was Argentinian: "I prefer Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo, but I acknowledge that the latter is an animal. He's incredible.

"He (Ronaldo) makes me think of (former Argentina striker) Gabriel Batistuta.

"As soon as he touched the ball, it was a goal." - WIRE SERVICES