Martino named Argentina coach to replace Sabella

BUENOS AIRES Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:28pm EDT

Barcelona's coach Gerardo Martino attends a news conference at Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona in this May 16, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Barcelona's coach Gerardo Martino attends a news conference at Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona in this May 16, 2014 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Albert Gea

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Former Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino was named on Tuesday as Argentina's national team manager in succession to Alejandro Sabella, the Argentine FA said in a statement.

Martino takes over from Sabella, who quit at the end of last month after steering Argentina to the World Cup final.

"The Rosario-born coach Gerardo Daniel Martino will take office as the new coach of the national team, succeeding Mr Alejandro Sabella who completed his contract with the AFA after the end of the World Cup Brazil 2014," the AFA said on its official website (www.afa.org.ar).

Martino, who won the Argentine league title with Newell's Old Boys in June 2013 before taking the reins at Barca, will make his debut in a Sept. 3 friendly against Germany in Duesseldorf.

The Germans beat Argentina 1-0 after extra time in the World Cup final at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, after which Sabella decided against accepting the offer of a new contract from the late AFA president Julio Grondona.

Grondona had planned to meet with the 51-year-old Martino to offer him the job but died of heart failure on July 30.

AFA vice-president Luis Segura took charge and the matter of appointing a new coach was postponed for more than a week.

Despite some critical comments Martino made more than a year ago about how the AFA was run, Grondona favored his appointment because he had worked with Argentina captain Lionel Messi, also a Rosario native, and Javier Mascherano at Barca.

Martino has previous national team experience having taken Paraguay to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 2010 and the Copa America final a year later in his home country.

Martino, whose contract will run until the 2018 World Cup in Russia, will be officially presented to the media on Thursday.

(Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Ken Ferris)

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