Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona was officially named coach of the national side here on Tuesday by Julio Grondona, the president of the Argentinian Football Association (AFA).

Grondona said that appointing the 48-year-old - who virtually singlehandedly took Argentina to the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ trophy in Mexico - was extra special.

"Today is a special day for Argentinian football," said Grondona. "Maradona is the new technical director and Carlos Bilardo (the Mexico 1986 winning coach) is the general manager of the team."

Maradona's first game in charge will be a friendly against Scotland in Glasgow on 19 November.

Maradona - who also was part of the Argentinian side that muscled its way into the Italy 1990 final only to have two players sent off as they lost 1-0 to then West Germany - won crucial support a fortnight ago in his bid to become coach when the man charged with finding Alfio Basile's successor threw his weight behind the former skipper.

"I'd like Maradona to be the next coach," said Noray Nakis, the president of the Argentina Football Association (AFA) selection commission.

Alfio gone
Basile resigned three weeks ago after a FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying defeat to Chile which left them in third place after 10 matches, seven points adrift of leaders Paraguay.

Maradona faced competition for the job from Carlos Bianchi, the former coach of Boca Juniors, whom he led to four national league titles, San Lorenzo coach Miguel Angel Russo and Sergio Batista who took the under-23 squad to Olympic gold in Beijing in August.

Unlike his fellow great South American footballing star Pele of Brazil Maradona has always been viewed with a mixture of high praise and criticism in his controversial career.

England supporters will always allege that despite his magnificent solo second goal in the 1986 quarter-final that they should have proceeded to the semi-finals had he not scored the first in the 2-1 win with his hand - or as he termed it the 'hand of god'.

He went on to score twice in the the semi-final against Belgium and ultimately orchestrated victory in the final against West Germany.