Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yes, Argentina: You Can Change a Coach

As the days tick down to the two final qualifying dates for most nations, Oct. 10 and 14, Argentina still has Diego Maradona as its coach. Despite four defeats in Argentina's last five qualifiers. Despite Maradona spending this week in a "spa" in northern Italy, allegedly to lose weight.

But it's not too late to change.

Or, at least, that's the way another struggling World Cup contender -- Costa Rica -- is approaching things.

After three consecutive defeats by an aggregate score of 8-0, the Ticos fired Rodrigo Kenton and have hired Rene Samoes, a Brazilian who took Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup.

Samoes has three weeks to change the lineup (or chemistry or mind-set) of the Costa Rican team. The Ticos were in fine shape, halfway through the Concacaf qualifying schedule, leading the hexagonal with 12 points.

Then came defeats at Honduras (4-0), home to Mexico (3-0) and at El Salvador (1-0). Kenton was shown the door on Monday.

Costa Rica sits fourth in the Concacaf standings but stills controls its destiny; victories at home against Trinidad & Tobago and at the United States would give it 18 points and guarantee it a top-three finish -- and an automatic berth at South Africa 2010.

Argentina doesn't quite control its fate for one of the four automatic berths set aside for South America. Even with victories over Peru and at Uruguay, it might not catch fourth-place Ecuador -- though it probably would.

However, two victories would assure it of a fifth-place finish, and one more shot at getting to South Africa, in a home-and-home playoff vs. the No. 4 team in Concacaf. Which, at the moment, is Costa Rica. Home of a pro-active federation. As opposed to Argentina, which seems confused and passive as its former national superstar leads it into the wilderness.

If it comes to a playoff with Costa Rica, Argentina might wish it had a real coach -- and not a confused figurehead with a famous name -- with a berth in South Africa on the line.

No comments:

Post a Comment