BUENOS AIRES - Sergio Batista was
confirmed as expected on Tuesday as Argentina's coach until the
2014 World Cup dashing any lingering hopes Diego Maradona might
have had of reclaiming his dream job.
Olympic gold-medal winning coach Batista, who has already
presided over three friendlies since August in an interim
capacity, was officially presented at an Argentine Football
Association (AFA) news conference.
"It is a satisfaction for me to share with you the
appointment to the new role that 'Checho' Batista has with the
Argentine Football Association," AFA president Julio Grondona
told reporters. "From this moment, until 2014, he will be the
national team coach.
"All there is left for me is to wish him the best."
Maradona, appointed by Grondona in Nov. 2008 when Alfio
Basile unexpectedly quit, was refused a new contract after
Argentina's humiliating 4-0 defeat by Germany in this year's
World Cup quarter-finals in South Africa.
Batista, who will be 48 next Tuesday, named a squad earlier
on Tuesday to play arch-rivals Brazil in a friendly in Qatar on
November 17, his first commitment as the permanent head coach.
His first big test comes next July when Argentina host the
Copa America, the South American Championship which Argentina
last won during Basile's first spell in charge in 1993.
It was the last time that twice World Cup winners Argentina
have lifted a major senior trophy.
Since the team captained by Maradona and held in midfield
by Batista won the World Cup in 1986 and reached the final in
1990, Argentina have failed to progress further than the last
"I'm fulfilling a dream, one of my great objectives," said
Batista, who steered Argentina's under-23 team to the gold
medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
"I want us in 2014 to win what we so desire: The last match
of the World Cup in Brazil," added Batista, whose right-hand
man is fellow World Cup winner Jose Luis Brown.
Maradona, at the centre of several controversies during his
20 months in charge, said his 50th birthday last Saturday was
the saddest anniversary of his life but he has vowed that he
will get the Argentina job back some day.
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