Argentina to drop Maradona as coach: Reports

Buenos Aires: Argentina were set to drop Diego Maradona as national coach, media reports said on Tuesday, as the Argentine Football Association (AFA) mulled potential successors.

Maradona had said earlier in the week that he hoped to continue in his role but only on condition he could keep his backroom staff, including faithful assistant Alejandro Mancuso.

"I`ve got a meeting with (AFA president Julio) Grondona this week and this week I`ll decide whether to continue or not," Maradona told America TV in a programme broadcast on Sunday night.

But after a tense meeting with Grondona on Monday, the signs were that the AFA would drop him.

Ole newspaper claimed that Maradona "is off" after "he did not accept to carry on without some of his lieutenants," including Mancuso.

The paper also posed its readers the question: "Who comes next?"

With a final decision set to fall late on Tuesday, one of the names in the frame was Alejandro Sabella, who led Estudiantes to the Copa Libertadores last year.

Other potential candidates include Miguel Angel Russo (Racing Club) and Sergio Batista, currently in charge of the Argentine youth set-up and who helped steer the country to Olympic glory in the Beijing Games in 2008.

Fans reportedly have a soft spot for Carlos Bianchi, who has enjoyed success with Velez Sarsfield and Boca Juniors, but his chances are believed to be slim due to a poor relationship with Grondona.

Should an inter-regnum period emerge the AFA are likely to give Batista the task of selecting the squad for an August 11 friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Maradona is the greatest player in Argentina`s history, having led the country to their second World Cup title in 1986 and a runners-up finish four years later.

He took charge of the national side in November 2008 and dragged Argentina to this summer`s finals by the skin of their teeth after an occasionally chaotic qualifying campaign.

Initially, the side played well in South Africa and won all three group matches but Germany thrashed the two-time champions 4-0 in the quarter-finals.

Argentina will host next year`s Copa America as they chase a first major trophy at senior level since 1993.

Bureau Report

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