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Iraqis deny Maradona link

23 December 2012-EFE

diego maradona

Denial ... Iraq's federation has denied approaching Diego Maradona (Getty)

Iraq's football federation categorically denied any interest in hiring former Argentine great Diego Maradona to coach its national team.

"There's no negotiation between the Iraqi soccer federation and Diego Maradona, and we don't have any intention of hiring him," the federation's deputy director, Abdul-Khaliq Masoud, told Argentina's official Telam news agency.

An Argentine sports executive said Thursday in Buenos Aires that Maradona was the leading candidate to become the next coach of Iraq's national team as it fights for a place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

"They called us from Iraq asking for a coach. We offered Diego and they were delighted," Hernan Tofoni of World Eleven, a firm that organises friendly matches for the Argentine national team, told Buenos Aires daily Clarin.

"Both they and Diego are very interested," Tofoni said. "That means: it's something very probable."

"Initially, they (the Iraqis) offered us a contract until June 2013, though we are trying to extend the term," Tofoni said.

The political panorama in Iraq does not pose any problems, the executive said, adding that any contract would include "special clauses taking into account the sensitive situation of the country."

As a player, Maradona led Argentina to victory in the 1986 FIFA World Cup but his 2008-2010 tenure as coach of the national squad was rocky.

Maradona was fired earlier this year as coach of Dubai's Al Wasl club, but has continued to serve as "sporting ambassador" for the United Arab Emirates.

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