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Basile succeeds Simeone as Racing Club coach

The 68-year-old, grinning like a youngster opening his Christmas presents, clapped along with fans as they chanted Racing would be champions with "Coco" Basile leading the way.

"We're going for the championship," Basile, a former Racing player who has coached the team in three previous spells, told a news conference, adding he had "come back home, because I grew up here and here's where I was fed".

He said Racing, who finished this season's Apertura championship this month in joint second place 12 points behind runaway winners Boca Juniors, could not afford to lose more than two games if they wanted to win the 19-match Clausura starting in February.

"It's very good that Boca and Velez [Sarsfield] are also playing the Copa [Libertadores]," Basile said referring to the teams he regards as Racing's chief rivals for the title.

Racing won their seventh and last league title 10 years ago this week.

Basile, who signed a contract for one year, will work closely with Racing's new general manager Roberto Ayala, who captained his Argentina side to the 2007 Copa America final and retired as a player at the club from the Avellaneda suburb earlier this year.

He said he remained keen to retain wayward Colombia striker Teofilo Gutierrez, who is only holiday on his country's Caribbean coast, but said he would not stoop to pleading for him.

Gutierrez, who has had problems with rival players and team-mates, has said he wants to play in Europe but Racing directors are optimistic they can retain him for the Clausura.

"Teo was 'killed' [by critics] but he scores two or three goals and they love him again," Basile said.

"It's good that he gets up opponents' noses [but] he must avoid getting sent off and be smarter... I hope people can put up with him a bit but I like him as a player."