Wednesday
October 22, 2014

SOCCER — NATIONAL TEAM

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Martino close to replacing Sabella

Gerardo Martino, the main candidate for the coaching role in the Argentine national team.

AFA will try to reach an agreement with the coach today

Speculations about the new Argentina national team coach could be over as AFA officials confirmed Gerardo Martino as the main candidate they will try to reach an agreement with him in a meeting today.

Gerardo Martino could become Argentina national team new coach if the trainer and AFA officials reach an agreement in a meeting today.

“Our main candidate is Martino. If we reach an agreement, he will become the new coach,” said Miguel Silva, AFA General Secretary who was very close to former chief Julio Grondona.

It could be the first decision of AFA’s new chairman Luis Segura, who has been confirmed as president of the Argentine Football Association until October 2015.

Julio Grondona, who had headed the AFA for 35 years, passed away due to heart problems last Wednesday.

Silva yesterday admitted that AFA has already talked to Martino, but “there’s still one last meeting to reach an agreement or not.”

People in AFA said there is no Plan B, although Edgardo Bauza, who is in charge of San Lorenzo seeking its first Libertadores Cup title, appears as a natural candidate if Martino rejects the offer.

Former Newell’s Old Boys boss, Martino almost did not talk to the press after leaving Barcelona. He has been on vacation in Pinamar during the few last days.

“It was Julio’s (Grondona’s) wish,” said José Lemme, president of Defensa y Justicia, about the decision to hire the coach from Rosario.

Former national team boss Alejandro Sabella, who could never announce his resignation officially, was going to hold a press conference last Wednesday to confirm his decision. But the meeting was suspended due to Grondona’s death.

Sabella led the team to the final of the World Cup in Brazil, where Argentina lost to Germany with an extra time goal scored by Mario Götze. It was the first time in 24 years that the national team had reached the championship decider.

Martino already has national team experience with Paraguay, having led Argentina’s neighbour to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 2010 and the Copa América final against Uruguay in 2011.

Among other reasons, Grondona wanted to hire Martino due to the coach’s excellent relationship with Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, leaders of the national team and part of the Barcelona squad when he was at its helm.

Barcelona President José María Bartomeu said yesterday that Martino’s concept of soccer has always been different from that of the club.

“Martino is a trainer who came from Argentina and his view was different from ours,” said Bartomeu.

Martino was in charge of Barça until last May. He clinched the Spanish Super Cup, but failed to win La Liga.

Argentina’s next international commitment is a friendly on September 3 in Düsseldorf against Germany, in a rematch of the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro from June 13.

Meanwhile, Julio Ricardo, one of Grondona’s sons, will be Argentina’s candidate to replace his father as FIFA vice-president.

“Julio Ricardo Grondona is our candidate to become FIFA vice-president,” Silva said yesterday.

The official to be elected, who should come from South America, is chosen by CONMEBOL, and although Silva admitted that the Confederation could suggest another candidate, they will fight to put Arsenal de Sarandí President Julio Ricardo Grondona on his father’s chair in FIFA.

“People from CONMEBOL will put forward their position and Argentina will do the same thing,” Silva added. “Argentina will fight for it.”

Grondona’s other son, Humberto, is in charge of the Argentina Under-20 and Under-17 squads, and his future is still uncertain.

Herald staff with agencies

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