x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Under pressure, Argentina cut ties with Batista as coach

The UAE-bound Diego Maradona and Alejandro Sabella along with Paraguay coach Gerardo Martina are possible replacements.

Batista took over from his mentor Diego Maradona only six months ago.
Batista took over from his mentor Diego Maradona only six months ago.

BUENOS AIRES // The Argentine Football Association finally bowed down to pressure from all quarters and decided to part ways with manager Sergio Batista.

Following the debacle at the Copa America, where Argentina lost in the quarter-finals, upset fans demanded the comeback of Diego Maradona whom Batista succeeded six months ago.

Apart from Maradona, the names touted as replacements are Alejandro Sabella and Paraguay coach Gerardo Martina. Incidentally both Maradona and Sabella are lined up to take positions as managers at UAE clubs Al Wasl in Dubai and Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi respectively.

Batista was vilified in the press for not seeming to know his best team — he chopped and changed after a poor start before Carlos Tevez, whom he dropped after two games, returned to miss the decisive spotkick against Uruguay. Maradona, who is slated to start his Dubai stint from August 1, also suggested that Batista should quit on his own in the days after the team's exit.

As a player, Sabella had brief stints with Sheffield United and Leeds and won the Copa Libertadores with Estudiantes two years ago.

The Argentine Football Association chief Cherquis Biao insisted that Batista "wasn't sacked" but it was decided unilaterally to cut ties with the coach who had guided Argentina to Olympic gold at the Beijing Olympics. The decision came less than a fortnight after they expressed faith in the coach on the day after that quarter-final loss to Uruguay, who went on to win the tournament.

During his tenure, Batista guided Argentina in 17 matches, with eight victories six draws and three defeats.

In announcing the move, the AFA also announced the cancellation of a friendly scheduled against Romania on August 10 in Bucharest.