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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Diego Maradona expected to be confirmed as Argentina coach

Diego Maradona is expected to be confirmed as Argentina coach on Thursday, his 48th birthday.

Maradona and Carlos Bilardo were asked on Tuesday to lead the national team by Julio Grondona, head of the Argentine Football Association.

Maradona would be the coach and Bilardo the manager, but the pair would not confirm whether they accepted the positions after leaving the meeting with Grondona.

Although the AFA and Grondona were yet to make official statements following the meeting, Maradona was already speaking to reporters as the future coach, and local media was widely reporting he would accept the job on Thursday.

Maradona told Fox Sports that "my path is with the national team ... my path is to speak with the players, try to put together a solid group with Carlos."

"Now we're just awaiting for it to be official. The idea is to get started right away when it becomes official.

"I'll put together the team, I'll choose the players and I'm sure Carlos will take care of a ton of other things.

"For me, this only compares to the birth of my two daughters" Dalma and Giannina, added the football great.

Grondona led the search for a coach following Alfio Basile's recent resignation for personal reasons he's yet to make public. He stepped down on Oct. 16 following a first loss to neighbor Chile in World Cup qualifying. Argentina was third in the South American race. Argentina's next match was a friendly at Scotland on Nov. 19.

Manchester United forward Carlos Tevez was the first Argentine player to congratulate Maradona on the possible post.

"What can be better motivation for a player than to have Diego as a coach?" Tevez said.

Bilardo was currently the head of the Sports Secretariat for Buenos Aires province.

Maradona's previous coaching experiences have not been positive.

He led Deportivo Mandiyu in 1994 and Racing Club in 1995, and in both cases abandoned the post before the contract was up.

Maradona regarded teammates from his 1986 World Cup champion side also worthy national coaches, players such as Jose Luis Brown, Pedro Troglio and Sergio Batista.

Batista, the national youth coach, guided Argentina to Olympic gold in Beijing, and was considered to be on a shortlist with River Plate's Diego Simeone and San Lorenzo's Miguel Angel Russo.

Maradona captained Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, and the 1990 final. The next year, his drug-plagued fall from grace began with a positive test for cocaine leading to a 15-month ban from the Serie A. At the 1994 World Cup he tested positive for a stimulant and received another 15-month ban. He retired as a player in 1997 after failing another doping test.

This decade he has reportedly been close to death while battling heart problems, high blood pressure and obesity.

Last year he was hospitalized twice for acute hepatitis blamed on alcohol abuse, but remains wildly popular in Argentina.

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