Argentina sack Maradona

Diego Maradona's spell as Argentina coach came to an end after the Argentine Football Association voted unanimously not to renew his contract, yesterday.

 Maradona's future had been in doubt since Argentina's 4-0 thrashing by Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals in South Africa this month, less than two years since his headline-grabbing appointment.

"There needed to be some changes among Diego's staff... and we couldn't come to an agreement," AFA chief Julio Grondona told the press.

"No one's being kicked out, a contract hasn't been renewed because we didn't have the conditions to do so."


An AFA spokesman cited "unbridgeable differences" with Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup victory as captain in 1986 and is adored by many Argentines.

The team's earlier-than-expected exit from the tournament followed a shaky qualifying campaign, but the former player was still given a hero's welcome when the squad returned home and President Cristina Fernandez urged him to stay on.

Several dozen fans, some banging drums and chanting, gathered outside the AFA's headquarters after yesterday's announcement.

Speculation had mounted ahead of the meeting that Maradona would not stay on as coach.

Maradona, 49, said on Sunday he wanted to stay on, but only if he could keep control over the choice of his assistants.

Local media said former Boca Juniors coach Carlos Bianchi, who led the Buenos Aires club to a string of national and continental titles in two stints between 1998 and 2004, was a popular favourite.

Other names circulating as possible successors include Estudiantes coach Alex Sabella, Independiente's former coach Americo Gallego, former Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa and ex-River Plate, Inter Milan and Argentina striker Ramon Diaz.

Cherquis Bialo said no decision had yet been made on a successor.

"Today in the meeting there was no discussion of when the selection of a new coach would take place," he said.