Latin America

Argentina sacks Sergio Batista

Sergio Batista Argentina coach
Sergio Batista has been dismissed as head coach of Argentina.
COPA AMERICA
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP)

Sergio Batista has been dismissed as Argentina coach following a disastrous Copa America in which a team of stars led by Lionel Messi managed only one victory.

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Batista, who took over a year ago, was Argentina's fourth coach in five years and had the same problem as his predecessor Diego Maradona: little tactical experience and an inability to get superstars to play as a team rather than as individuals.

''Batista has ceased to be the national team coach,'' Ernesto Cherquis Bialo, spokesman for the Argentine Football Association, said Monday.

Alejandro Sabella, former coach of Argentine club Estudiantes, and Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino - an Argentine - are seen as the favorites to replace him. Also being mentioned as a successor is former Boca Juniors and Atletico de Madrid coach Carlos Bianchi.

Cherquis Bialo said a new coach would be named in a week.

Argentina's prestige has plunged with the constant coaching turnover, leaving them without a major title in 18 years. It has been 25 years since Argentina won the last of its two World Cup titles.

The Copa America, which ended Sunday, was seen a perfect chance to break through with Argentina hosting the tournament.

The switch is being made before Argentina begins play later this year in South American qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Argentina may have a tough time qualifying for Brazil 2014 with Copa America winner Uruguay and others such as Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela all having played well in the Copa America.

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AFA President Julio Grondona hired Batista and Maradona and he is certain to be the key person in selecting the next coach.

Argentina was knocked out of the Copa America quarterfinals despite fielding a team led by Messi and a cast of some the world's best players including Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano.

Argentina won only one match of four, a 3-0 victory over Costa Rica, which was fielding its second team as a guest entry in the Copa America. Argentina drew 1-1 with Bolivia, 0-0 with Colombia and was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Uruguay 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in extra time.

Batista was Maradona's teammate and a defensive midfielder on the 1986 team that won the World Cup. A youth coach for the Argentine Football Association, his name began to take on a higher profile after leading Argentina to the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

In 17 matches under Batista, Argentina won eight, drew six and lost three.

In recent coaching changes, Jose Pekerman stepped down after Argentina was beaten in the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup. He was followed by Alfio Basile, Maradona and Batista.

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