Berizzo replaces Sabella at Estudiantes

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Argentine champions Estudiantes, who begin the defence of their Apertura title on Friday, have signed Eduardo Berizzo as their coach following Alex Sabella's shock resignation last week.

Berizzo, right-hand man to Marcelo Bielsa with the Chile national team from 2007 until the 2010 World Cup finals, will begin his first job as a head coach on Tuesday after being officially unveiled, Estudiantes said on Monday.

The 41-year-old Berizzo played as a central defender under Bielsa for Newell's Old Boys in the early 1990s and Argentina in the late 90s. He also played for River Plate, Olympique Marseille and Celta Vigo.

Sabella, who steered Estudiantes to a Libertadores Cup triumph and the domestic Apertura in less than two years at the helm, told leading players including captain Juan Sebastian Veron he was quitting over differences with the club board.

The players, however, said they were upset with Sabella's timing and their perception that he was betraying his own philosophy of all pulling together in times of need.

Estudiantes are at home to Newell's Old Boys in the opening match of the Clausura championship, second of two in the 2010/11 season, on Friday.