Merlo named new Rosario Central chief

BUENOS AIRES - Reinaldo Merlo, one of Argentina's most well-travelled coaches, took over at struggling Rosario Central on Tuesday.

Known as Mustard because of the colour of his hair and famous for believing that making a horn-like symbol with his fingers will stop the opposition scoring at free kicks, Merlo replaced Gustavo Alfaro who was fired on Saturday.

"I want to put Central back where it belongs," he told reporters.

Merlo spent his entire playing career as a defensive midfielder with River Plate and has coached in Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia plus six clubs in his homeland.

His biggest achievement was in 2001 when he helped Racing Club win their first domestic title for 35 years. He was rewarded by having his statue placed at the stadium entrance.

When the opposition is awarded a free kick near his team's penalty area, Merlo places his fist behind his back and leaves two fingers outstretched in gesture known locally as "little horns."

Central, who enjoy fanatical support and whose stadium hosted 1978 World Cup matches, are 18th in the relegation standings, which would condemn them to a play off against a second division side. Relegation is decided over three seasons in Argentina.