BUENOS AIRES: Argentina have appointed Edgardo Bauza as new national coach to try to rebuild squad and morale after two Copa America final defeats and the departures of captain Lionel Messi and manager Gerardo Martino.
Bauza led Ecuador’s LDU Quito and Argentina’s San Lorenzo to Copa Libertadores success in 2008 and 2014 respectively and guided Brazilian club Sao Paulo to the semi-finals last month.
The AFA needed a quick decision with the need to name a squad in a fortnight for next month’s World Cup qualifiers at home to Uruguay and away to Venezuela. Bauza, 58, is expected to make a priority out of persuading Barcelona’s Messi to reverse his natonal team retirement decision made after the Copa America Centenario defeat by Chile in June.
The AFA is currently being led by a ‘normalisation committee’ appointed by world federation FIFA and South American governing body CONMEBOL after the failure to elect a new president and a fall-out over a new league structure.
Uncertainty also reigns over the controversial, government-financed Futbol Para Todos programme which guaranteed free-to-air screening of domestic league matches.
Interim AFA president Armando Perez said: “Bauza has been appointed coach of the national team and will come to Argentina on Friday to sign. We know there are a lot of problems to deal with at the AFA … but first we had to resolve the matter of the coach.”
Bauza, as a player, was a central defender nicknamed ‘Paton’ (big foot). He spent most of his career at home-town Rosario Central for whom he scored 80 goals in 310 games and helped win the Argentine league title twice in the 1980s. He also played for Atletico Junior (Colombia), Independiente (Argentina) and Veracruz (Mexico).
He made three appearances for Argentina and was a member of the squad who reached the 1990 World Cup final in Italy.
As a coach he guided Rosario Central (1998-2001), won the Peruvian league title with Sporting Cristal to the league title in 2005 as well as in Ecuador, Saudi Arabia and latterly Brazil. He took charge at Sao Paulo early this year.