Maradona mania grips Pakistan [DAWN]

Maradona mania grips Pakistan [DAWN]

Umaid Wasim – DAWN

KARACHI: If Diego Maradona comes to Pakistan, he can expect scores of fans welcoming him at the airport.

Social media was abuzz after the agent of the Argentine football legend said that the 1986 World Cup hero would be looking into the possibilities of Maradona coming to Pakistan on the invitation of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

“We would wait for the mandate from the PFF to schedule a meeting with Diego’s lawyer and advance this situation as soon as possible,” Gustavo Amador Moure of the ABC Sports Agency told PFF Marketing Consultant Sardar Naveed Haider in his e-mail, which was shared with Dawn.

The development comes a day after Maradona, blasting his country’s football association, compared the Argentina Football Association (AFA) with the PFF saying “they know football as much as the football officials in Pakistan do”.

Sardar Naveed replied with a tongue-in-cheek comment that Maradona should rather come to Pakistan and “help develop football.”

With Sardar Naveed’s comments going viral on the internet, Moure communicated with the PFF Marketing Consultant late on Thursday night and when it came out, it sent Pakistan’s football fans into frenzy.

“This is great news for Pakistan Football,” Ahmed Khwaja, an executive engineer at a telecommunications company, told Dawn. “I will definitely be at the airport to receive him.”

In other comments, fans spoke that “half of Lyari would be there for Maradona”, referring to the Karachi area where football enjoys massive popularity.

Other said his arrival would “trigger football in the cricket-ridden country” and “dreams will come true if Maradona comes to Pakistan”.

According to Pakistan’s most decorated football coach Tariq Lutfi, this move will “create great ripples in Pakistan football”.

“If Maradona comes to the country, this will do a lot for the game in Pakistan,” he told Dawn on Friday.

“This will hopefully bring sponsors into the game which would ultimately lead to the growth of the game in Pakistan.”

If it happens, Maradona’s trip to Pakistan would happen in collaboration of the PFF and British-based sports management company TouchSky Sports.

Maradona, 53, is currently the honourary sports ambassador for the Dubai Sports Council (DSC).

He coached Dubai-based club Al Wasl for a year before he was fired in 2012. He was also Argentina’s coach in the 2010 FIFA World Cup where they were knocked out by Germany in the quarter-finals.