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Batista fired by Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, July 26 – Argentina’s Copa America flop has cost coach Sergio Batista his job as the Argentine Football Association said Monday they were parting ways with the manager.

AFA’s Ernesto Cherquis Bialo confirmed Batista’s departure after a meeting of the AFA executive committee on Monday.

Although Batista only officially replaced Diego Maradona six months earlier, his days had appeared to be numbered after Argentina exited the Copa on home soil after a quarter-final shootout loss to old rivals Uruguay — who went on to win the title.

Batista was vilified in the press for not seeming to know his best team — he chopped and changed after a poor start before Carlos Tevez, whom he dropped after two games, returned to miss the decisive spotkick against Uruguay.

There was no immediate word on a successor, athough the main candidates appear to be Alejandro Sabella and Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino.

As a player, Sabella had brief stints with Sheffield United and Leeds. He is set to take charge of Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates.

Sabella won the Copa Libertadores with Estudiantes two years ago.

Cherquis Bialo insisted that Batista “wasn’t sacked” but in fact the AFA unilaterally decided to cut ties with the coach who before taking the helm of the national team had guided Argentina to Olympic gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Batista, 48, took over from Maradona after the 2010 World Cup finals initially on a temporary basis, but landed a permanent role just three months into the job.

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During his tenure, Batista guided Argentina in 17 matches, with eight victories six draws and three defeats.

In discussing a future trainer, Cherquis Biao said the decision would be taken calmly and probably announced in the coming week.

The departure of “Checho” is another in a string of managerial changes for Argentina since the 2004 exit of Marcelo Bielsa. He was succeeded by Jose Pekerman (2004/06), Alfio Basile (2006/08), Maradona (2008/2010) and Batista.

In announcing the move, the AFA also announced the cancellation of a friendly scheduled against Romania on August 10 in Bucharest.

With that cancellation, the next scheduled fixtures for Argentina are tune-ups before they begin 2014 World Cup qualifying in October against Chile.

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