Diego Maradona has resigned as coach of Mexican second-division club Dorados for health reasons after nine months in the job.
Maradona took the reigns at Dorados, who are based in the western state of Sinaloa, in September 2018 – amusing skeptics who questioned why the 1986 World Cup champion, would move to a place better known for drug cartels than football.
But he answered his critics by coaching the struggling club to back-to-back finals appearances that brought them tantalisingly close – but not quite – to their dream of winning promotion to the first division.
However, the 58-year-old will now step away as he looks to return to full health.
Maradona “has decided not to continue in his position as manager of Dorados. Under his doctors’ advice, he will be devoting time to his health and will undergo two operations: for his shoulder and his knee,” lawyer Matias Morla wrote on Twitter.
“We thank the entire Dorados family and will continue the dream together in the future,” he added.
“Thank you for everything, Diego!” tweeted the club. “A Dorado forever.”
Brazil can overcome the loss of star man Neymar to claim the Copa America crown on home soil, according to former captain Cafu.
The Selecao open the tournament against Bolivia in Sao Paulo, with an expectant nation targeting victory in the South American showpiece event for the first time since 2007.
Head coach Tite, though, will be without Paris St Germain forward Neymar, who suffered ankle ligament damage in a friendly against Qatar, one of the competition’s two invited guest teams along with Japan.
Peru and Venezuela are Brazil’s other opponents in Group A, with the hosts aiming to plot safe passage all the way through to the final at the Maracana in Rio on July 7.
Cafu holds a record 142 Brazil caps and won the World Cup twice, captaining the side to victory in 2002.
The former right-back knows the weight of expectation on the Selecao, who also have concerns over Barcelona midfielder Arthur’s knee problem.
Cafu, though, believes Tite’s squad can pull together for the challenges ahead, with Chelsea winger Willian having been called up as a replacement for Neymar.
“Brazil loses a great player, one of the most important in the national team, which changes things tactically,” Cafu told reporters at a Copa America launch event in Brazil, as quoted by media outlet O Dia.
“Tite will have to build the team without him, but I believe that this will not prevent the selection of a team to play great games and that Brazil can win the title.”
Cafu added: “I think it’s going to be a different kind of Copa America than any other, with big teams.”
The Selecao beat Honduras 7-0 in their final warm-up match, with Everton forward Richarlison among the scorers.
Brazil have won the Copa America on all of the four previous occasions they have been hosts – the last time in 1989.
Bolivia may be set for the role of underdogs at the Estadio do Morumbi on Friday but head coach Eduardo Villegas is determined to make the most of their opportunity in the spotlight.
“It’s a privilege to face Brazil, the same we had against France (in a recent friendly), we want to do well,” Villegas said, quoted on the Bolivian Football Federation website.
“We know that we are a little bit below the rest, but we know that it can be levelled.
“It’s a question of attitude, of fight, desire – and that is what we are going to show in the team.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Ryan Giggs says Gareth Bale has shaken off his end-of-season rust and is ready to finish the campaign on a high with Wales.
Giggs’ side meet Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday, with precious Euro 2020 qualifying points at stake.
Wales hope to claw back the three-point deficit on Group E leaders Hungary and are looking to captain Bale to end his goal drought at the Groupama Arena.
The Real Madrid star has gone three months without a goal for club and country, and has suffered huge frustration in Spain after losing his first-team place towards the end of the season.
“I was happy with Gareth’s performance in Croatia,” Giggs said of the 2-1 defeat in Osijek on Saturday which dropped Wales to third place in the group.
“He had a couple of chances and on another day they go in.
“It was his first game in six weeks, we had a great build-up in Portugal and a great week at Colliers Park (their training facility in Wrexham).
“Gareth grew into the game, not playing for six weeks that might be understandable. Hopefully’s he’s saving it for Hungary.”
Some 3,000 seats will be unfilled at the venue after UEFA ordered a partial stadium closure following the behaviour of Hungary supporters in Slovakia in March.
Hungary fans were found guilty of racist behaviour, vandalism and the setting off of fireworks. The Hungarian football Federation must display a banner with the wording ‘EqualGame’ on it in the closed sector.
“There will be less fans in the stadium but I understand it’s a very good atmosphere,” Giggs said when asked about the threat of racism from Hungary fans.
“I’ve talked before about sanctions on racism not being strong enough. They need to be stronger.
“But for me it’s all about concentrating on the game. I’ve got enough to worry about with winning this game.”
Provided by Press Association Sport