Sergio Batista removed as Argentina coach after poor Copa America

Sergio Batista
Batista won eight of his 17 matches in charge but failed at the Copa America

Sergio Batista has agreed to step down as coach of Argentina after their quarter-final exit at the Copa America.

Hosts Argentina went out to champions Uruguay on penalties in the last eight.

Batista, 48, had been in charge for a year, initially on a caretaker basis, after Diego Maradona was dismissed following the 2010 World Cup.

An Argentine Football Association (AFA) spokesman said Batista had not been sacked, but it had been decided to "rescind" the coach's contract.

"He put his future as the head of the national team up for consideration by the executive committee," added spokesman Ernesto Bialo.

Argentina, whose last major trophy was their 1993 Copa America triumph, have cancelled a friendly scheduled for 10 August against Romania in Bucharest.

"The coaching staff of Argentina teams at all levels are under evaluation by the national teams commission," added Bialo.

"There are no deadlines, there's no rush, no urgency [to appoint a new coach] so there will be a process of consideration and study."

Batista oversaw a disappointing Copa America campaign that started with Argentina drawing their first two group games, against Bolivia and Colombia.

They beat Costa Rica 3-0 to qualify for the last eight, but then lost on penalties to neighbours Uruguayexternal-link after a 1-1 draw. Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez missed his spot kick in the shoot-out.

Argentina's team boasted an array of world stars, including current World Player of the Year Lionel Messi of Barcelona, his Barca team-mate Javier Mascherano, formerly of Liverpool, and Manchester City target Sergio Aguero, but Batista failed to match that talent with results.

Maradona, who captained Argentina to their last World Cup triumph in 1986 but fared less successfully as coach of the national team, was critical of Batista's reign.

After the Copa America he told Argentina's Radio Belgrano: "If I had only beaten Costa Rica, I would have gone on my own. What is happening right now is not the fault of the players."

Batista's tenure as Argentina coach started well with friendly wins over Spain and Brazil but the AFA has decided to make a change before qualifying starts for the 2014 World Cup, which is being hosted in neighbouring Brazil.

Local media have suggested several names as potential replacements for Batista.

One of the favourites is Alejandro Sabella, who won South America's premier club competition, the Copa Libertadores, with Estudiantes in 2009 and recently took charge of Al-Jazira in the United Arab Emirates.

Sabella had playing spells with Sheffield United and Leeds United between 1978 and 1981.

Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino, who is Argentine, and Carlos Bianchi, who has won four Copa Libertadores as manager, have also been mentioned as possible replacements for Batista.

The AFA has also announced it plans to merge the teams from the country's top two divisions into one next year, combining all 20 from the top flight and 16 or 18 from the second tier.

It is likely that the teams will be divided into regional groups, meaning a reprieve for River Plate who were relegated for the first time in their history at the end of the 2010-2011 season.

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