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Argentina deny reports players want Sampaoli out

Jorge Sampaoli’s job is at stake as Argentina teeter on the brink of an early exit in Russia © AFP / Johannes EISELE

BRONNITSY, Russian Federation, Jun 22 – Argentina denied reports Friday that players want coach Jorge Sampaoli sacked before their final World Cup group game against Nigeria after a humbling 3-0 defeat by Croatia.

“It’s absolutely false,” read a statement from an Argentine team official.

“All that has been said about a players’ meeting or anything else, it is all false,” the source added.

Following Thursday’s match, there were reports in both local and international media of a rift between Argentina players and the coaching staff.

It was also suggested that 1986 World Cup winner Jorge Burruchaga, the team’s technical director, would take charge for Tuesday’s must-win game against Nigeria.

“They want to sack Sampaoli, bring in Burruchaga and follow Spain’s example,” Ricardo Caruso Lombardi, who has coached several Argentine clubs, said on Thursday.

Spain dismissed coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup after Real Madrid announced he would replace Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu following the tournament.

Argentina suffered their heaviest first round group-stage defeat at the World Cup since 1958 against Croatia, leaving them on the brink of elimination after an opening 1-1 draw with Iceland.

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