Football

Sabella to step down as Argentina coach after final

Former Barca coach Martino and Atletico 
boss Simeone are potential successors

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella will step down after Monday morning's (Singapore time) World Cup final regardless of the result, his agent told Argentine radio this morning.

Sabella, who has led Argentina to their first World Cup final since 1990, could deliver a perfect parting gift if they lift the World Cup on the soil of their fiercest rivals.

Standing in their way, though, are a powerful Germany side who demolished hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

Former Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone are reportedly possible candidates to replace the 59-year-old.

"To go at the top is always positive. I believe he gave everything to the national team and that now is the time to give way to another person," agent Eugenio Lopez told FM Delta.

END OF A CYCLE

"He's going. He's leaving whatever happens. Whether they are champions or not, a cycle is ending."

Sabella told Argentina sports newspaper Ole that he was focused only on Monday morning's match.

"The future, for me, is the next match, the World Cup final. Thinking about something different would be disrespectful," he said.

Argentina have been more workmanlike than wonderful under Sabella, despite the presence of four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.

However, Sabella has forged a formidable work ethic in the side and introduced much-needed tactical discipline.

The South Americans topped Group F in Brazil with wins over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria before earning 1-0 victories over Switzerland and Belgium in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively.

Their win over Belgium equalled Argentina's longest World Cup-winning streak of five games, though they needed a penalty shootout to see off Holland in their semi-final in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

ENGLAND STINT

Sabella, capped eight times by Argentina, left River Plate in 1978 to play in England with Sheffield United and Leeds United before returning home to various club sides and turning out for teams in Brazil and Mexico.

After hanging up his boots in 1989, he worked with ex-Argentina defender Daniel Passarella at the Uruguay national team and at Parma in Italy.

He was also part of the Argentina set-up at the 1998 World Cup.

Sabella got his first job as head coach in 2009 at Argentine club Estudiantes and led them to their fourth Copa Libertadores title.

He was set for a lucrative job offer from the Middle East when the Argentina FA called him in 2011 to replace Sergio Batista, after Argentina had crashed out in the Copa America quarter-finals as hosts. - Reuters.

World Cup