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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup chit-chat: Sabella to leave Argentina coach job after final

World Cup chit-chat: Sabella to leave Argentina coach job after final

Last updated on: July 12, 2014 14:24 IST

World Cup chit-chat: Sabella to leave Argentina coach job after final

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Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella is to step down after Sunday's World Cup final against Germany regardless of the result, his agent told Argentine radio on Friday.

Sabella, who took over in 2011, has led Argentina to their first World Cup final in 24 years, where they will face a powerful German side that demolished hosts Brazil in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

While Argentina will now have to step up the search for a successor, Sabella could deliver no better parting gift than winning the World Cup on the soil of their fiercest rivals.

Former Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone are being mentioned as possible candidates to replace the 59-year-old, according to media reports.

"To go at the top is always positive. I believe he gave everything to the national team and that now is the time to give way to another person," Eugenio Lopez told FM Delta.

"He's going. He's leaving whatever happens. Whether they are champions or not, a cycle is ending."

While state news agency Telam said the 59-year-old's contract was due to expire after the tournament, the news caught some by surprise in Argentina.

"It’s not good that the announcement came before the final. Psychologically it is not good for the players,” said soccer enthusiast Facundo, declining to give his surname.

“He did something no trainer had done in years, which was to make a group of players play as a team. So as a fan of Argentine football, I wish he would carry on, regardless of whether we win or lose.”

Sabella told Argentina sports newspaper Ole that he was focused only on Sunday's match.

"The future, for me, is the next match, the World Cup final. Thinking about something different would be disrespectful,” he said.

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Image: Head coach Alejandro Sabella of Argentina
Photographs: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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Sabella has infused tactical discipline in the team

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Argentina have been more workmanlike than wonderful under Sabella, despite the presence of four-times World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, but he has forged a formidable work ethic in the side and introduced much-needed tactical discipline.

The South Americans topped Group F in Brazil with wins over Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria before earning 1-0 victories over Switzerland and Belgium in the last 16 and quarter-finals.

Their win over Belgium equalled Argentina's longest World Cup winning streak at five games, though they needed a penalty shootout to see off the Netherlands in the semi-final in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

Sabella, capped eight times by Argentina, left River Plate in 1978 to play in England with Sheffield United and Leeds United before playing for various club sides back home as well as in Brazil and Mexico.

After retiring from the playing side in 1989, he worked beside ex-Argentina defender Daniel Passarella at the Uruguay national team and at Parma in Italy, and was part of the Argentina set-up at the 1998 World Cup.

He got his first head coaching job in 2009 at Estudiantes and led them to their fourth Copa Libertadores title.

Two years later he was put in charge of Argentina, World Cup champions in 1978 and 1986 but who had not reached the final since 1990.

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Image: Coach Alejandro Sabella of Argentina during a training session at Cidade do Galo
Photographs: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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Italian Rizzoli to officiate World Cup final

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Nicola Rizzoli of Italy will referee the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina.

Rizzoli got the call to work his third Argentina match at this year's World Cup.

"It is unbelievable for me," Rizzoli said in a video interview released by FIFA on Friday.

"I represent Italy in this moment. I want to be one of the best for sure, and I will."

He is the second Italian to referee the final in the past four World Cups. Pierluigi Collina refereed when Germany lost to Brazil 2-0 in the 2002 final in Yokohama, Japan.

Now head of UEFA refereeing, Collina has been a strong supporter of his compatriot's career.

Rizzoli was the referee for the Champions League final in 2013, when Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in London.

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Image: Referee Nicola Rizzoli gestures
Photographs: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

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Scolari gets CBF, players backing

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Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari should carry on because of his good work in the job even though the hosts were humiliated by Germany in the World Cup semi-finals, a Brazilian federation official said on Friday.

"To me, he stays," the president-elect of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) Marco Polo Del Nero told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper in an interview.

"What happened was a tactical error. That was the problem. But we all make mistakes. It can happen to anyone," he added referring to Brazil's 7-1 mauling by Germany on Tuesday

"The important thing is that he did a good job. The campaign and the preparations were good. A base exists."

It was the first time Del Nero or Jose Maria Marin, the man he will replace as head of the CBF next April, have spoken about the humbling defeat by Germany in belo Horizonte.

Scolari, who led Brazil to their fifth World Cup title in 2002, said he would complete a report of the team's performance after he takes charge of Saturday's third-place playoff match against the Netherlands in Brasilia.

The former Portugal manager has lost just three times in 28 matches since taking over in November 2012 and thought the semi-final loss against Germany should not mask his solid record.

"I will present my report and then President Marco Polo and the board will talk among themselves and let's see what happens and let's see what they think was right and what was wrong in my work," he told reporters at the Brasilia national stadium.

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Image: Head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari of Brazil
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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'You can't crucify him for a mistake or any other reason'

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"I know in the last year and a half we have had several very good situations so I cannot see how people can only see the result of one match.

"What I really wanted was to get to the finals but I didn’t do that."

Scolari's failure, and the ignominy of overseeing Brazil's heaviest ever World Cup defeat in which the hosts conceded four goals in six first-half minutes, has led many fans to call for his head.

However, Brazil captain Thiago Silva said the squad still believed in the coach with the Copa America coming up in Chile next year.

"It's not because he is sat beside me but I've told him we really trust him and we have learnt and developed in this year and a half," said the defender, who missed the Germany defeat through suspension.

"You can’t crucify him for a mistake or any other reason. Because, as a group, when there is a mistake everyone is responsible. He has his part of the blame and so do we.

"Over those six minutes we just had a blackout and that result wouldn’t happen again in another 100 years."

Scolari was peppered with questions about his future on Friday but the gesticulating coach said he had more pressing personal issues to sort after the World Cup.

"The first thing is to pay my bills, go to the bank and also adjust my personal life as it has been left aside during this period," he told reporters. 

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Image: Head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari of Brazil celebrates with Neymar
Photographs: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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Huge reduction in World Cup injuries say FIFA officials

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It will be no consolation to Neymar and other injured players, but there has been a 40 per cent reduction in the number of both minor and serious injuries at the World Cup compared to previous tournaments, FIFA said on Friday.

The reasons for that, according to FIFA's medical committee is because there is now less contact between players than there was in previous finals and tougher sanctions for fouls that lead to injuries.

A total of 95 injuries have been recorded in the competition so far with seven "severe" injuries including Brazilian forward Neymar's broken vertebra and Mexican defender Hector Moreno's broken leg.

Injuries are deemed "severe" if they sideline the player for four weeks or more.

In a statement on Friday Jiri Dvorak, FIFA's chief medical officer said: "The medical committee believes there is less contact and fouls, more sanctions for fouls that cause injuries, and continuous improvements by referees from 1990 onwards in terms of education and fair play."

Statistically speaking, he said, "In 1998 and 2002 there were 2.7 per cent injuries per game and now we are down to 1.6."

FIFA's head of refereeing Massimo Busacca said the reduction was thanks to a more flexible approach by match officials and co-operation from the players.

"We have had a lot of co-operation and respect from players," he told reporters. "In general, we've had a lot of respect, and that is the message we have to give around the world."

"The refereeing decisions were accepted, we saw the players accepting and understanding the referees. This is what has been done for the beginning, preventing and talking to the players.

"In some games, we may be missed (failed to give) some cards but not because there was instruction (to do so)," he added.

"Again, what we really asked the referees was to have some football understanding, to understand in the first few minutes what kind of match you have today."

"You cannot be a policeman and give red and yellow cards all the time, you can reduce the fouls with communication," he said, referring to the foul-ridden quarter-final between Brazil and Colombia.

"When you have a game with 53 fouls it’s because the players have decided not to play football," he said. "It's the players that decide to play."

Players had been accepting of referees' decisions, he added.

Busacca said that the vanishing spray, used to indicate the correct distance between the defensive wall and the ball at free kicks near the penalty area, had been a success.

"We did not have a single yellow card for not respecting the 9.15 metres," he said.

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Image: Brazil's Neymar grimaces in pain after a challenge by Colombia's Camilo Zuniga during their quarter-final at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

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