Batista officially named Argentina coach

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.

COPA TEST

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 eight.

"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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