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Maradona out as coach as Argentina’s soccer coach
Question of the Day
His stint as coach of the Albiceleste ended far less successfully than his time as a player with the national team. The Argentine Football Association, which hired the former star in November 2008, said Tuesday that his contract will not be renewed. The decision came 3 1/2 weeks after his team, led by star Lionel Messi, was eliminated from the World Cup with a humiliating 4-0 loss to Germany in the quarterfinals.
That was unacceptable to AFA president Julio Grondona. He had asked for several assistants to be replaced, including Maradona’s close friend Alejandro Mancuso. The federation said its executive committee unanimously decided to not keep Mardona.
AFA spokesman Ernesto Cherquis Bialo called the decision “very painful” but said there was no way to solve the impasse.
“The president said that there was a significant difference between what AFA wanted to achieve and Maradona’s aspirations for the future,” Cherquis Bialo said. “There was a wide gap, and it was impossible to narrow it.”
The spokesman hinted, however, there might be a role in the future for a man with an unpredictable history.
Youth team manager Sergio Batista was appointed interim coach for the Aug. 11 exhibition at Ireland, which will be followed by a Sept. 7 home exhibition against world champion Spain. Possible permanent successors include two club coaches in Argentina: Alejandro Sabella of Estudiantes and Miguel Russo of Racing.
Asked about the full-time coach, Cherquis Bialo said: “The people who were in the meeting have no name in their imaginations. It has just been announced that the contract with the coach will not be renewed. And so, a new stage begins.”
He had little coaching experience, and his team absorbed two of the worst losses in the country’s history: a 6-1 rout at Bolivia in World Cup qualifying and the World Cup defeat to Germany.
Argentina attacked with flair in South Africa, with Messi setting up scoring strikes by Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez. Maradona, dressed on the sideline in a gray suit, was an enthusiastic cheerleader, but that could not compensate for his team’s tactical deficiencies. The loss to Germany exposed frailties on defense and lack of midfield speed.
By Scott Pinsker
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