Batista refuses to quit after Argentina crash out of Copa
Published 18/07/2011 | 05:00
So the wait goes on. A penalty shoot-out defeat to Uruguay in Saturday's quarter-final ended Argentina's hopes of winning the Copa America on home soil, and means their 18-year trophy drought will go on.
Given the talent they have had, that surely makes them the biggest underachievers in world football.
Sergio Batista, their much criticised coach, insisted he would stay on, reiterating that his goal is the 2014 World Cup, and claiming that the Copa America was only ever preparation for that.
At first that seemed a sensible way of playing down expectations. But if he really meant it, though, he badly misjudged the mood; home tournaments come around infrequently and this seemed a perfect chance to seal silverware.
"It never went through my head to resign," Batista said. "In the first two games we didn't play as we'd have liked. The balance (of the side) was not what we'd have liked, but it takes time."
That, though, raises the awkward question of why the performance dipped after half-time against Uruguay, particularly given their opponents were down to 10 men, having had Diego Perez sent off after 39 minutes. The answer is even more uncomfortable: Batista was out-thought by Uruguay boss Oscar Washington Tabarez.
And throwing on Javier Pastore and Carlos Tevez simply led to the tactical confusion that had blighted the games against Bolivia and Colombia.
"I wouldn't call this a disaster," said Batista. "Disaster is a very strong word."
There are many in Argentina using far stronger ones about him.
•Brazil last night crashed out of the tournament after losing 2-0 to Paraguay in a penalty shoot-out after missing all four of their spotkicks. The game finished 0-0 after extra-time. (© Independent News Service)