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AFA 'has no replacements for Maradona'

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

The AFA announced that Maradona, who led the team to the quarter-finals of this year's 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 he 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 suitable."

Sergio Batista, who took Argentina's U23 side to gold at the 2008 Olympics, will manage the team for the international friendly against 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 (the AFA) so he will 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."

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

General secretary Jose Luis Meiszner said: "I would be a hypocrite if I didn't admit there was a general disliking of several aspects of the cycle that ended with the World Cup."

Argentina full strength for Irish clash at Aviva

INTERIM Argentina manager Sergio Batista will take charge of a squad that was picked by Diego Maradona and contains 17 of the 23 men that went to the World Cup for the friendly at the Aviva Stadium. Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini, Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta and Liverpool wing-back Emiliano Insua all return to the team.

Midfielders Fernando Gago, Jesus Datolo and Ever Banega, and forward Ezequiel Lavezzi are also back after missing out on the campaign in South Africa.

Star men Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez are all in the squad for next month's game in Dublin.


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