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Maradona set to stay on

BUENOS AIRES, July 16 – Diego Maradona is set to stay as Argentina coach despite their loss to Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals, amid reports Friday the Argentine Federation would offer him the chance to stay on for the next tournament in neighbouring Brazil in 2014.Maradona was a surprise choice to lead the team when he took over in autumn 2008, having had little coaching experience.

The team struggled through the qualifiers and he tried out more than 100 players.

But until the Germans proved too strong for his men, Maradona’s Argentinians had generally impressed by winning all their opening phase matches and also dispatching Mexico in the round of last 16.

On Wednesday, a Federation spokesman said that Maradona – who has not been seen in public since his return from South Africa – would be asked to stay on.

There have since been reports in the media that Federation president Julio Grondona plans to meet with Maradona, who led Argentina to victory at the 1986 World Cup, next week to discuss terms.

A Federation spokesman said that meeting would have "an open agenda without any strings attached."

Grondona "will ask Maradona to report back and to give an assessment (of the World Cup)" and lay out a project of his vision for taking the team through to 2014," the spokesman said.

He added it was hoped that the former star would "take them through to the seventh game (i.e. the final), of Brazil 2014."

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It is believed Maradona will, however, be asked to streamline his backroom team, which media reports took to mean he would be asked to drop several lieutenants including technical assistant Alejandro Mancuso.

Several stars, including Lionel Messi and Gabriel Heinze, have voiced their hope that Maradona will stay on while former coach and 1978 winning skipper Daniel Passarella has also given his support.

Argentina will host next year’s Copa America tournament and would hope to go into that prestigious event with a coach well bedded-in before the two-times world champions switch their sights to a possible third World Cup win on the soil of their arch rivals and neighbours.

Brazil themselves were unable to go further than the quarters at the World Cup, going out to eventual finalists Holland.

Mulling the possibility that Maradona, 49, may not stay on, the media have speculated on possible alternatives, including Gerardo Martino, Paraguay’s Argentine-born coach, as well as Alejandro Sabella, coach of Estudiantes de La Plata.

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