(AFP) – Oct 17, 2008
BUENOS AIRES (AFP) — Argentina superstar Diego Maradona said on Friday he wants to succeed Alfio Basile as the national team coach and take them to the World Cup finals.
However, Maradona is likely to lose out to Sergio Batista, who led Argentina to the Beijing Olympics gold medal, in the race to take over the reins from Basile who resigned in the aftermath of the 1-0 qualifying defeat to Chile on Wednesday.
"Perhaps I am behind in the betting but I am without doubt the number one in the hearts of Argentinians," said the 47-year-old Maradona who skippered Argentina to 1986 World Cup victory.
"I couldn't ask for anything better. I would be in seventh heaven."
Batista said he was ready to take charge.
"I feel as if I am capable and I'm convinced that I could do the job," he told La Red radio.
Other candidates are believed to be Miguel Angel Russo, currently in charge of Argentine club side San Lorenzo, and former international midfielder Diego Simeone, the coach of River Plate
A spokesman for the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Friday that the new coach will be named on October 27.
Basile, 64, had been under fire since his team's lacklustre showing in the World Cup qualifer against Chile, a defeat which left them third in the group.
It was Chile's first ever qualifying success over the albiceleste and first of any description since 1973.
Argentina's poor form stretches back over seven games, however, with only one win notched up in that time - a 2-1 victory over Uruguay last week.
Basile signed up in his latest stint as Argentina coach in July 2006 from Boca Juniors. He had previously been national coach from 1991 through to the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
Basile took over from Jose Pekerman, who quit following Argentina's quarter-final elimination at the hands of hosts Germany on penalties in the World Cup.
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