Maradona to tour Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia

Argentine football hero Diego Maradona will tour Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand this year, his sponsor Elemco Overseas Corp, has advised newspapers. The 47-year-old, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title in Mexico, is now actively promoting his own brand of football called Showbol, a mix between futsal and soccer, played seven-a-side over two 25-minute periods on a 22m by 42m artificial pitch surrounded by an acrylic wall.

Luis Lestani, general manager of Elemco, said Maradona’s showbol team - which includes former Argentine players Matias Almeida, Sergio Goicoechea, Alejandro Mancuso, Patricio Campos, Sergio Zarate, Sebastian Rambert, Jose Borreli, Fernando Gamboa and Mackalisster - had confirmed dates in the three countries in May or June.

Lestani said Maradona, capped 90 times for Argentina, had also spoken of his interest in establishing a Maradona Football Academy in Malaysia.

UPDATE (6 March)

Diego Maradona is reported to have agreed to make an appearance at the MCG stadium in Melbourne, Australia when the Socceroos host Argentina in a friendly on 6 June. It would be his first visit to Australia since he played the 1993 World Cup qualifier in Sydney which resulted in a 1-1 draw. Football Federation Australia has invited him to be a VIP guest for the game. "We're really hopeful he will attend," an FFA spokesman said. "Obviously he's been pretty big supporting Argentina teams so we thought we should invite him."