Diego Maradona won big in his Mexican coaching debut Monday, as the Argentine legend’s new club, Dorados, routed fellow second-division side Cafetaleros 4-1.
Maradona has raised eyebrows with his decision to coach the struggling team from Culiacan, Sinaloa, in the heart of Mexican drug cartel country.
But he was all smiles as Ecuadoran forward Vinicio Angulo — wearing Maradona’s old number 10 — scored a hat trick to give the new coach the win.
“We played a great match,” he told a packed press conference afterwards.
“Some people said Maradona’s useless. There were a lot of stupid people going on television to fill up the time. I hope they’ll come to the pitch now and look at my record and see what we’re actually doing, see that I know how to do this,” he added.
Still, it was hardly a monumental win: Dorados were 13th in their league heading into the match, and Cafetaleros 15th.
With their newly earned three points, Maradona’s team doubled their previous total and leapt to 10th place.
Maradona vowed it was just the beginning.
“This was nothing, this was just one match,” he said, sporting a gold-and-white Dorados cap.
“We’re still going to be playing in a lot of finals. Let’s not think we’ve achieved anything with this match. This is just the start of a beautiful dream.”
Maradona, 57, lived the finest hours of his playing career in Mexico, leading Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title.
His coaching career has been less stellar, and he has publicly struggled with drug addiction, alcoholism and obesity along the way.
He got a hero’s welcome when he arrived in Culiacan last week.
But he failed to fill Dorados’s 20,000-seat stadium for his debut.
Attendance did more than double from the club’s recent matches, however: there were 10,133 fans in attendance, up from just over 4,000 on average at the previous two home appearances.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits from Richard Barrett)