Maradona sacked as Argentina coach
Argentine Football Association drops Maradona as national coach after row over staff.
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2010 21:35 GMT
Maradona during his last match as coach of the national team in the 2010 World Cup [AFP]

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has decided not to renew Diego Maradona's contract as national team coach.

AFA's decision on Tuesday ended Maradona’s erratic 21-month stint in charge of the national team that had mirrored his own long personal history of unpredictable behavior and defiance.

The AFA had offered him a four-year contract to continue through to the 2014 World Cup, but Maradona said he would only stay if his entire staff remained.

That was an unacceptable condition to AFA president Julio Grondona, who wanted to replace several assistants including Maradona's close friend, Alejandro Mancuso.

Doubts had surrounded the 49-year-old's future ever since a tense meeting with Grondona on Monday and newspapers had spent the day speculating on who would succeed the man who led  the team to victory as star player at the 1986 World Cup.

As an inexperienced coach, Maradona's record over 18 months was less than stellar and the team only qualified for the World Cup finals by the skin of their teeth.

Although several players had spoken up for him after a run to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, where Germany proved too strong, the AFA decided it was time to give the job to someone else.

One name in the frame to succeed him is Alejandro Sabella, who led Estudiantes to the Copa Libertadores last year.

Other potential candidates include Miguel Angel Russo (Racing Club) and Sergio Batista, currently in charge of the Argentine youth set-up and who helped steer the country to Olympic glory in the Beijing Games in 2008.

Fans reportedly have a soft spot for Carlos Bianchi, who has enjoyed success with Velez Sarsfield and Boca Juniors, but his chances are believed to be slim due to a poor relationship with Grondona.

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