Grondona sadded by Maradona departure

Argentinian Football Association president Julio Grondona has confirmed there is no shortlist yet in place to succeed Diego Maradona as national team manager.

The AFA announced on Tuesday that Maradona, who led the team to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, would not be having his contract renewed.

After the team’s humiliating defeat by Germany, Maradona suggested he would not be continuing in his position but this week appeared to have had a change of heart when he said he would like to remain if he were allowed to keep his coaching staff intact.

That, however, proved to be the key sticking point and the AFA executive committee decided not to hand the 1986 World Cup winner a four-year contract.

Grondona said: “It is difficult to agree. The hardest difference to agree on was changing some of Diego’s staff.

“Nobody has been sacked. A contract has not been extended because the conditions were not the suitable.”

Sergio Batista, who took Argentina’s under-23 side to gold at the 2008 Olympics, will manage the team for the international friendly against the Republic of Ireland on August 11.

Grondona suggested Batista might remain in charge for some time as no candidates were yet in the frame for the full-time position.

“We have time to choose the technical staff,” he said. “We have not thought about anybody yet.

“Batista is a member of the staff of this body so he will obviously fill the place as long as is needed.”

Grondona admitted the situation with Maradona had left him disappointed.

He said: “When you cannot agree with somebody you love, you are not happy at all.

“I always want to talk to him, but sometimes it is difficult because this is not the best moment.”

Other AFA board members appeared less saddened by the situation, however.

General secretary Jose Luis Meiszner told cable channel C5N: “I would be hypocrite if I didn’t admit there was a general disliking of several aspects of the cycle that ended with the World Cup.

“We did not see any intention to show humility, to say things should have been done better.

“There was no evaluation, no review, no conclusions. These are the things you have to think about in order to think about the future.”

Batista, who took Argentina’s Under-23 side to gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, will take charge of a squad for the Ireland friendly which was picked by Maradona and contains 17 of the 23-man World Cup group.

Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini, Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta and Liverpool wing-back Emiliano Insua all return to the Albicelestes.

Midfielders Fernando Gago, Jesus Datolo and Ever Banega, and forward Ezequiel Lavezzi are also back after missing out on the World Cup.

Star men Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and Maximiliano Rodriguez are all in the squad for the first match to be played at the new Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

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