Wednesday has been an interesting day for the suits at the AFA, now back home, who’ve been embroiled in some heated discussions about the future of the national team. It’s taken up so much of their time that, in between fitting in their luxurious banquets, the fat incompetent old fools haven’t yet got round to releasing the fixture list for the 2010 Torneo Apertura, which was meant to come out yesterday. Under discussion: a new contract for manager Diego Maradona, and a new friendly date; Argentina will play Spain in the United States in September. There’s also another World Cup campaign about to get underway; the holders are heading to England to defend their title in the World Blind Football Championship.
According to the AFA, Maradona’s contract expired after the World Cup, but Julio Grondona is eager, for entirely footballing reasons you understand, to hand him another one. Grondona wants Maradona to take charge of the team for next year’s Copa América (which will be played in Argentina), against the wishes of a large part of the AFA’s board of directors, made up of presidents of the clubs in the Primera, who would rather the hosts actually had a go at winning the thing for the first time since 1993.
‘There are plenty of directors who believe Diego’s already had his opportunity. But who’s going to come in if he doesn’t continue?’ asked an unnamed director said to be close to Grondona (my guess – backed up by no rumours whatsoever – is Argentinos president Luis Segura) of an Olé journalist. Apparently, Paraguay’s Argentine manager Gerardo Martino is the only name Grondona will contemplate. Really?
At the time of writing, it still seems to be a stalemate at the meeting, which was to take place in the AFA’s training complex at Ezeiza rather than their city-centre head office. One thing that has been ratified is that the selección will play a friendly against newly-crowned world champions Spain on the 7th September, probably in New York. Before that, on the 11th August, they’re due to visit Dublin to play the Republic of Ireland (not Northern Ireland in the same city, as Olé amusingly reported last week). That first date is now under a month away, and for the moment the team still don’t have a manager.
There’s also the possibility that the team will have another friendly the week prior to the Spain one, also in the USA – that’s likely to be against one of Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador or the US themselves.
In other national team news, the Murciélagos (‘Bats’) are preparing to head to England for the 2010 World Blind Football Championship, which will take place from the 14th to the 22nd August in Hereford. Led by Silvio ‘the blind Maradona’ Vela, this is one competition Argentina actually do have a chance in – they’ve won the last two titles, including a 1-0 win (with a fantastic solo goal from Vela himself) over Brazil in the final of the last event in 2006, which was held in Buenos Aires.
Finally, apologies for the lack of HEGS action immediately post-World Cup. I travelled to Montevideo to watch Uruguay’s semi-final there, and as such have been writing furiously for Soccernet and When Saturday Comes about things that aren’t Argentine football for the last few days since the tournament finished.
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