Argentina sack coach as they struggle to make Russia 2018

Edgardo Bauza goes after eight games, with Lionel Messi banned and the team outside the World Cup qualifying places

Edgardo Bauza and Lionel Messi
Edgardo Bauza and Lionel Messi during Argentina's 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier football match against Chile
(Image credit: Alejandro Pagni/AFP/Getty )

Argentina have sacked coach Edgardo Bauza after only eight months in charge as last season's beaten Copa America finalists look in danger of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

With only four games left to qualify, Argentina lie fifth in the South American group, with a record of three wins, three defeats and two draws under Bauza. Only the top four gain automatic entry, with the fifth-placed team facing a play-off against a team from Oceania.

Argentina's remaining games are away against third-placed Uruguay and at home against lowly Peru and Venezuela, while the final match, against Ecuador at high altitude in Quito, could be decisive. Ecuador are currently sixth in the qualifying ladder, just two points behind the Albiceleste.

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Just as worrying for Argentina is that Lionel Messi, who Bauza talked out of international retirement after the Copa America defeat last year, is expected to be suspended for three of those games. And although Peru and Venezuela do not pose much of a threat on paper, Argentina drew against both under Bauza and also lost at home to Paraguay.

"Bauza's final match was a 2-0 defeat in Bolivia, which came hours after captain Lionel Messi was given a four-match ban for verbally abusing an official," reports the BBC. "Argentina have four games left in qualifying, with their next match against third-placed Uruguay on 31 August. They last failed to qualify for a World Cup in 1970."

Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli, who masterminded Chile's run to the last 16 of the 2014 World Cup and victory in the Copa America in 2015, is favourite to take over.

Chiqui Tapia, head of the Argentine football association, "will now fly to Europe to attempt to convince Jorge Sampaoli to replace the hapless Bauza", says The Independent.

The delegation will also talk to Messi, says the paper, and hold talks with Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, although he "is not thought to be interested in a full-time international role".

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