Martino: 'We will continue with Sabella's good work'
A new era began today for the national team as Gerardo Martino was officially introduced as Argentina’s coach at the Argentine Football Association (AFA) training facility in Ezeiza.
“I am honoured by this,” Martino said. “I am where everyone wants to be,” he added in a press conference that started a few minutes late, around 1.30 pm, with the observance of a minute of silence in memory of late AFA president Humberto Grondona.
The 51-year old will replace Alejandro Sabella, who resigned after Argentina’s loss to Germany in the World Cup final last month.
“We will continue with the good work that Alejandro [Sabella] started,” Martino said. and expressed his “respect” for his predecessor.
Rosario native Martino was out of contract following a trophyless year at the helm of Barcelona, ending with his resignation in May following a last-day draw against Atlético Madrid which cost the Blaugrana the title. But the new Argentina coach was at pains to deny that he was looking to make up for a disappointing spell in Catalunya with the national team.
"It is not a rematch, because we went [to Barcelona] to try and do a good job. In my opinion that did not happen and I am absolutely not pleased with the year I had, with myself as the person most responsible," he affirmed.
"It was a bad year for Barcelona," Martino underlined, while adding that his experience directing Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano at the Camp Nou would "make my job easier."Unlike his predecessor Sabella, Martino is set to take on a more involved role with the Albiceleste's youth divisions, ahead of a South American U-20 Championships in January 2015 that will determine whether the nation qualifies for Rio 2016.
"An Olympic Games will have senior national team players, as well as the Under-20s. We agreed with [AFA] directors to participate in everything related closely to the senior side," he explained.
Martino will face his first challenge as coach on September 3, when Argentina plays against Germany in Düsseldorf. The coach wasted no time after taking over, confirming that he would pick the same 23 men who made up the World Cup squad to take on the side who defeated Argentina in the final.
"When we finished the World Cup with Paraguay we did the same thing in the first friendly," he said.
"For me the first match, when it comes after such a positive run, is like a prize for the footballers. There is also a time issue and we decided that the same World Cup men should play."