Argentina to keep Batista despite Copa flop

BUENOS AIRES, July 18, 2011 (AFP) - Argentina said on Monday they would keep Sergio Batista on as coach despite their early Copa America exit.

The 14-times champions lost a quarter-final to Uruguay, now going for a 15th title, on a penalty shootout.

But Humberto Grondona, sub-director of team affairs at the Argentine Football Association and the son of AFA president Julio Grondona, said the organisation would keep faith in the man who only officially replaced Diego Maradona six months ago.

There will be no "brusque changes - we never thought of going down that road," said Humberto Grondona in an interview with Radio La Red.

"The technical staff have to have sufficient wisdom to draw conclusions" from the Copa failure to end a trophy drought stretching back to 1993.

"The future lies before us - the qualifiers (for the 2014 World Cup)," he added.

Grondona has been vilified in the press for not seeming to know his best team - he chopped and changed after a poor start but still that did not prevent the Uruguay loss when Carlos Tevez missed the decisive spotkick to send the Uruguayans through a semi-final against Peru.

Batista must "protect himself and see which player is of no use to him," said Grondona junior.

"We hope he will change," he added.

Maradona, dumped after a World Cup quarter-final thumping by Germany, was also criticised for using too many players but in any case had a poor relationship with Grondona senior.

"From a sporting point of view (the Copa) was not very good but there is an important future ahead with the qualifiers."

Argentina's next scheduled match is a friendly on August 10 against Romania in Bucharest. In early September they will face Copa giantkillers Venezuela in a gala match in India then take on Nigeria in Bangladesh on September 6.

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