Messi justifies resignation of Argentina coach

October 18th, 2008 - 1:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Barcelona/Buenos Aires, Oct 18 (DPA) Argentine striker Lionel Messi argued 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 Friday as he arrived in Barcelona.

He played in Argentina’s 0-1 defeat to Chile Wednesday in Santiago in the South American qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa - a match that sealed Basile’s resignation late Thursday. Argentina has won only one of its last seven games in the qualifiers.

Messi’s attacking team-mate Sergio Aguero said in Madrid: “Yes, it is a surprise. I was not expecting it, but we have to respect his decision.”

Messi said he favoured Sergio Batista as Argentina’s 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.

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

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

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