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Top choice not likely replace Maradona
by Paul Kennedy, by Ridge Mahoney, July 27th, 2010 6:22PM
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[ARGENTINA] The 21-month tenure of Diego Maradona as Argentina national team coach is over. Now comes the task of finding a replacement. Like Brazil, whose first choices were unavailable when it came time to replace World Cup coach Dunga, Argentina's most popular coach won't likely get the job because of conflicts with Julio Grondona, the boss of Argentine soccer.

Unable to reach an agreement with Grondona, president of the Argentine soccer federation (AFA), about changes in the national team coaching staff, Maradona lost support of the AFA executive committee.

Maradona wanted his staff retained, Grondona wanted several members replaced. When discussions ended Monday without resolution, the executive committee conducted its vote.

Sergio Batista, the coach of the Argentine youth team, has been named interim coach and is considered a candidate to replace Maradona permanently.

Argentina has friendlies coming up at Ireland on Aug. 11 and at home against World Cup champion Spain on Sept. 7. And it will host the Copa America next summer.

Former Boca Juniors coach Carlos Bianchi is the popular favorite to replace Maradona but he has heretofore turned down offers to coach Argentina because of differences with Grondona.

Other candidates:

-- Chile and former Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa (also considered a candidate for the Japan job and a possibility for the U.S. head coaching job if Bob Bradley isn't retained);

-- San Lorenzo and former River Plate coach Ramon Diaz (a former youth star alongside Maradona);

-- Estudiantes coach Alex Sabella (a longtime assistant under Daniel Passarella, notably on Argentina's 1998 World Cup team);

-- Racing Club coach Miguel Angel Russo (who has had stints at 12 clubs in four different countries);

-- Former Independiente coach Americo Gallego (who also had a long tenure in Mexico).



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