Ramon Maradiaga (second from right) is presented as the head coach of El Salvador on September 23, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol)
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – The Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol (FESFUT) officially presented Ramon Maradiaga as the new national team head coach at a press conference on Wednesday.
With the fourth round of qualifying in CONCACAF for the 2018 FIFA World Cup slated to kick off in November, the former Honduras international and manager is eager to get started.
“As of right now I feel Salvadoran,” proclaimed Maradiaga. “I am going to fight as a Salvadoran. That is my commitment and my message.
“What one did as a player and coach previously no longer counts. As of now a new history begins, new pages that we are going to try with the coaching staff to start to build, so that we all feel proud. We can all wear the shirt with pride and say ‘we are going to see the national team’ because they are going to give us satisfaction. That is my intention and the dream that I have.”
El Salvador resumes qualifying with a Group A meeting at home on November 17 against Canada. Maradiaga believes that the Cuscatlecos can finish first in the group, but to do so it will also have to figure out a way to navigate successfully challenges posed by CONCACAF Gold Cup champion Mexico and his native country, Honduras.
“None of the other three teams are invincible” the 60-year-old remarked. “Everyone is pointing to Mexico as a favorite because of who they are. We are not going to deny that. But I visualize El Salvador first in the group. I will be a dreamer. We are going to qualify, I do not know if it will be from first or second, but that is going to be my job.”
As a player, Maradiaga appeared in three games at the 1982 FIFA World Cup and also competed at the 1977 FIFA World Youth Championship (now the FIFA U-20 World Cup). He went into coaching in 1992 and has led numerous teams, including Motagua, Marathon, Aguila, Guatemala, Real España and Municipal.
Maradiaga takes the El Salvador reins from Isidro Metapan head coach Jorge Rodriguez, who guided El Salvador – on an interim basis -- past Curacao in the third qualifying round earlier this month.