Sabella eases into the Argentina hotseat

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ALEX Sabella, the former Sheffield United midfielder, has been unveiled as Argentina’s new manager.

The 56-year-old, who won the Copa Libertadores during a successful spell with Estudiantes, replaces Sergio Batista after withdrawing his application for a post with UAE outfit Al-Jazira.

“We would like to take this opportunity to wish Alex all the best,” a United spokesman told The Star. “He is still very well thought of at this football club and I’m sure that all of our supporters will also be extending him their very best wishes too.

“We are sure that he will be a resounding success.”

Jose Luis Meiszner, the AFA’s general secretary, confirmed: “The decision has been taken. Sabella is the choice.”

Batista opted to relinquish his position following Argentina’s miserable showing at the Copa America earlier this month.

La Albiceleste were eliminated by eventual winners and arch-rivals Uruguay at the quarter-final stage.

“The national teams committee has decided to rescind the contract that attached Mr Batista with the Argentinian Football Association,” a spokesman confirmed after the penalty shoot-out defeat in Santa Fe.

“In a very good natured, mature telephone conversation, Mr Batista and Mr Julio Grondona (the AFA president) talked and Batista left his situation in the hands of the AFA.

“Batista is a man who does not need any explanation. He talked to the AFA president and allowed him to decide whatever he considers the right thing.”

Sabella’s first task will be to end a trophy drought stretching back to 1993 although Batista did deliver the Olympic gold medal in 2008.

Sabella joined United from River Plate in 1978 and scored eight goals in 76 league appearances before a brief spell at Leeds United.