If I were Batista, I`d quit: Maradona

Buenos Aires: Diego Maradona has said that were he Argentina coach Sergio Batista he would quit following the side`s early Copa America exit.

The Argentine Football Association says it will keep Batista on as coach despite their quarter-final loss on
penalties to Uruguay - he only succeeded Maradona after last
summer`s World Cup quarters loss to Germany.

But Maradona says that decision is wrong-headed.

"If I had only beaten Costa Rica, (Argentina`s sole Copa
success) I would have gone of my own accord," Maradona told
Radio Belgrano yesterday.

"What is happening right now is not the fault of the
players. Julio Grondona is doing just what he likes," Maradona
asserted, in allusion to the AFA president, with whom he was
in regular conflict during his ill-fated stint as coach.

Maradona and Batista were teammates in the side which won
the 1986 World Cup but the two have been at loggerheads since
Batista took over after the former was forced out.

Just as the Copa started, Maradona asserted Batista
should not complain about being in the spotlight and if he
didn`t like the accompanying pressure should "cross the border
to Uruguay, where nobody would recognise him," unlike his
predecessor, who is instantly recognised worldwide.

"I can`t speak much as I don`t see the games," admitted
Maradona, who agreed to coach Emirates side al Wasl and who
has been preoccupied in recent weeks with his mother`s
deteriorating health.

Those commitments aside, he finds watching too painful.
"When the players come onto the pitch it`s like a knife
being twisted inside me," he revealed.

Maradona had blasted Batista before the Copa after the
latter drew up a preliminary squad which included neither
crowd favourite Carlos Tevez not the former coach`s son-in-law
Sergio Aguero.

Tevez flopped, being dropped after two games before
missing the crucial penalty against Uruguay which finished
Argentina off.

Aguero did do well, scoring three goals.

With Batista confirmed for now at the helm Argentina`s
next scheduled match is a friendly on August 10 against
Romania in Bucharest. In early September they will face Copa
giantkillers Venezuela in a gala match in India then take on
Nigeria in Bangladesh on September 6.

Bureau Report

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