Maradona back from suspension, off to SAfrica

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Diego Maradona is back as Argentina’s soccer coach, ending a two-month suspension imposed by FIFA following a profanity-filled rant after his team qualified for the World Cup against Uruguay.

The Argentine Football Association said in a statement Friday that Maradona will travel Sunday to South Africa to view Argentina’s training facilities in Pretoria.

After Argentina’s 1-0 win over Uruguay, Maradona attacked critics of his coaching in a tirade on television. Argentina faces South Korea, Nigeria and Greece in Group B when the World Cup opens in June.

Maradona is expected to be back on the bench for Argentina’s first exhibition of the year, a match scheduled for Jan. 26 at Costa Rica.

Maradona has been out of the news since being suspended and fined $25,000 in November. He was barred by FIFA from attending the World Cup draw in South Africa in December. He also missed an exhibition match in December, which Argentina lost 4-2 against an all-star team from Spain’s Catalonia region.

Maradona was one of the best players of his generation and led Argentina to the World Cup title in 1986 in Mexico. But he has faced widespread criticism since taking over a year ago as Argentina’s national team coach.

It is his first major coaching assignment and the team has struggled despite deploying some of the best talent in the world, including Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.