BUENOS AIRES - Juan Roman Riquelme can inspire Boca Juniors to new successes, Alfio Basile said at the start to his second tenure as the team's coach on Wednesday. "Riquelme is a key component, he's the one who pulls the strings," Basile told a news conference. "He is a fabulous player, and proud which is what I like most about him," said the 65-year-old, who had not spoken to the media since his shock resignation from the Argentine national team eight months ago. Basile, who cut short his first, 14-month spell in charge of Boca in 2006 to take charge of Argentina, will be looking to add to the five trophies he won with the club and especially to lifting the Libertadores Cup for the first time as a coach. Basile's Argentina lost their way in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and he resigned after a 1-0 defeat away to Chile, bringing about the appointment of Diego Maradona. Boca won the Apertura championship in the first half of the 2008-09 season but have had a poor year so far and sacked coach Carlos Ischia last month with the team languishing in 17th place in the Clausura championship. REVIVAL OF FORTUNES Basile has been appointed to bring about a revival in Boca's fortunes and coach and club hope it will also spark a return to form for Riquelme, who has been plagued by injuries. Riquelme was not at Boca during Basile's previous tenure but the midfielder was a favourite of the coach as Argentina reached the Copa America final in 2007 and made a promising start to the qualifiers for next year's World Cup in South Africa. The former Barcelona and Villarreal playmaker has not played for Argentina since Basile's resignation. Following a row in the media with Maradona, he quit the team in March. But with Maradona's team also struggling, there have been calls for Riquelme to come back and an attempt by Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona at a rapprochement. Basile, who as a player won the Libertadores Cup with Racing Club in 1967, lifted two league titles, the Copa Sudamericana which is a UEFA Cup equivalent, and two South American Supercups with Boca in 2005 and 2006. "There's a top line squad here, I know 90 percent of the players and I've been promised top level reinforcements," Basile said of the squad at the country's most popular team. "I'm very happy to be back and to have Riquelme and (Martin) Palermo, who are key players," he added, referring to the striker who holds the Boca goal-scoring record in the professional era. "When I left, I knew I would be coming back."
2 July 2009
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