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Sports in brief

Maradona snags coaching job in UAE

Diego Maradona has been appointed as coach of second division side Al-Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

The former Argentina star, now 56, has been out of management since being sacked by Dubai’s Al-Wasl in 2012 but has now found a new role in the UAE second tier.

A statement on the club’s Twitter feed read: “Officially: Maradona as coach of Fujairah”

Maradona himself wrote on his official Facebook page: “I want to tell you that I’m the new coach of Al-Fujairah SC, in the second division of the United Arab Emirates.”

Attaching a picture of himself posing with an Al-Fujairah shirt with his name and his famous number 10 on the back, he added: “Here are my new colours!”

AFA relieved as FIFA lifts Messi ban

Lionel Messi has been cleared by FIFA to play in the next three World Cup qualifiers after a ban for insulting a referee’s assistant was lifted.

Messi already served one match of the four-match ban that was imposed when the FIFA disciplinary committee gave its ruling hours before Argentina’s 2-0 loss in Bolivia in March.

“We are very happy that FIFA once again has credibility at AFA and that we can count on Leo Messi,” Claudio Tapia, the head of the Argentine Football Association, wrote on Instagram.

FIFA said its appeal committee considered Messi’s behaviour “reproachable” for verbally abusing a linesman late in a 1-0 win over Chile on March 23. But the panel concluded the “evidence available was not sufficient to establish to the appropriate standard” required for the disciplinary committee to impose the initial suspension.

“The appeal committee nevertheless underlines the importance of always showing respect to the match officials, stressing that such a principle is essential in football and any unsporting conduct that may be contrary to the principles of fair play cannot be accepted,” FIFA said in a statement.

Argentina is fifth in the 10-team South American group with four games to go.

Pichot: Pumas must restore image against England

Argentina must beat England in next month’s two-test home series to restore the image formed at the 2015 World Cup and erase the memory of a poor 2016 season, former Pumas captain Agustin Pichot said this week.

Pichot, World Rugby’s vice-president, also said he would like to bring the 2027 World Cup to Argentina and that his country would make an exciting destination for a British and Irish Lions tour.

The June test series may not be against England’s best, who have contributed 16 players to tour New Zealand with the Lions at the same time, but Pichot said the Pumas can still expect a very strong side under Eddie Jones.

“We need to win,” said Pichot. “After last year our image wasn’t great, so now we need to win and playing locally against England it’s a must.

“(England coach) Eddie Jones is doing very good work. He is bringing a lot of young players, so that could be very dangerous for Argentina. Even against a non-Lions England team it’s going to be very tough.”

Pichot took Argentina to the top rungs of the game with his leadership of the bronze medal-winning Pumas at the 2007 World Cup in France. He helped them find a place in the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship, and he watched proudly as they reached the semi-finals again in England two years ago. But 2016 was a year of transition, with more disappointments than success. It left Argentina with barely two wins in nine tests and a slump to ninth in the rankings.

— Herald with agencies

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