I would like to coach Argentina, says Maradona (Lead)

October 18th, 2008 - 1:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Buenos Aires/Barcelona, Oct 18 (DPA) Argentine football legend Diego Armando Maradona has said he would like to coach Argentina, following the resignation of Alfio Basile.”I would really like to be the national team coach. I had never in all these years had such a clear option as this. I am devoted to the Argentine national team and ready to take on that risk,” Maradona told La Red radio Friday.

He now joins a list that already features Miguel Angel Russo, Sergio Batista and Diego Simeone.

Basile resigned late Thursday, following Argentina’s 0-1 defeat to Chile Wednesday in Santiago in the South American qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Argentina has won only one of its last seven games in the qualifiers.

Sources at the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said Basile’s successor would be named Oct 27.

“I know I do not top opinion polls, but I am on top in people’s hearts. It is time for all those who gave people happiness in 1986 to have our chance,” he said, referring to the team that won the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

The Argentine daily Clarin, however, pointed to Russo, who currently coaches the Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo, as the main favourite to succeed Basile.

The AFA has reportedly held talks with Russo’s team, although they would wait till the end of the current Argentine football tournament - led by San Lorenzo - for Russo to take over the national team.

Argentina’s superstar striker Lionel Messi said in Barcelona that he favoured Sergio Batista as the next coach. Batista, coach of the national junior teams, recently led the South American country’s team that won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing this year.

“I know him and I know the way he works. I have confidence in him and in his staff. He would be good,” Messi said.

Batista said he feels “ready to stand the pressure that heading the national team entails.”

“If I am the coach, the basis is going to be the Olympic team,” he said.

Several of that team’s players - including Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria, Javier Mascherano and Juan Roman Riquelme - are already playing for the senior national team.

Messi argued Friday that “perhaps a change was needed” to justify Alfio Basile’s resignation as Argentina coach just hours earlier.

“When things do not go well, it is better to make changes. The national team had not been playing well and perhaps a change was needed,” Messi said.

Argentina is set to play a friendly against Scotland Nov 19. The World Cup qualifiers will continue in late March.

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