Sabella quits as Argentina coach

Sabella quits as Argentina coach

Sabella quits as Argentina coach

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Alejandro Sabella, who steered Argentina to the World Cup final, has quit as national team coach with Gerardo Martino or Jose Pekerman in line to succeed him, Argentine media reported on Tuesday.

The reports said Sabella, whose side lost 1-0 to Germany in the final at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, had told Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona of his decision not to stay on.

With Sabella stepping aside, the AFA will have to move quickly to name a successor with Argentina beginning preparations for its next major tournament, the 2015 Copa America in Chile, with a friendly against Germany in Duesseldorf on Sept 3.

Former Paraguay and Barcelona coach Martino, and Pekerman, who steered Argentina to the 2006 quarterfinals and Colombia to the same stage in Brazil, are front-runners to take over.

Sabella, 59, has called a news conference for Wednesday at AFA headquarters where he is likely to explain his decision and possibly reveal his future plans.

Sabella’s agent, Eugenio Lopez, said two days before the World Cup final that the coach was unlikely to carry on and Sabella said on his return to Buenos Aires he was unsure if he had the energy to give his best any longer.

“You have to fill the energy tank which sometimes gets empty. I have to think if I’m in condition to give 100 percent,” Sabella said two weeks ago.

Sabella, who took charge in August 2011, led Argentina to first place in the World Cup qualifiers where the team scored 35 goals in 16 matches.

His side won its three group matches in Brazil, thanks mainly to four goals from Lionel Messi, but Argentina’s progress through the knockout rounds to its first World Cup final in 24 years was marked more by sound tactics and a firm defense.

Argentina has further friendlies during a tour of Asia in October. It meets archrival Brazil in China and also plays against a Hong Kong team.

Martino and Pekerman have both worked with Messi.

Martino coached him at Barcelona last season, where he also had Argentina’s midfield general, Javier Mascherano. He has World Cup experience as Paraguay coach in South Africa in 2010.

Pekerman handed Messi his first Argentina cap in 2005 and also gave him his World Cup finals debut in Germany the following year.

 

Argentina’s national soccer coach, Alejandro Sabella, poses with children during a ceremony in his honor at the Argentine Congress in Buenos Aires last week. Sabella, who steered Argentina to the World Cup final in Brazil, has decided to quit his post. Marcos Brindicci / Reuters

(China Daily 07/31/2014 page24)

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