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Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Argentina still want Bielsa
Batistuta (left) and Bielsa react to the final whistle
Batistuta (left) and Bielsa react to the final whistle

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The president of the Argentine FA hopes to persuade Marcelo Bielsa to remain as team coach despite the premature World Cup exit on Wednesday.

Bielsa's current contract is about to expire, but Julio Grondona believes his job is only half-finished.

"I would like the cycle to continue," he told Radio Mitre. "There is a serious and important project to complete.

Open Quote
I don't think they will need a veteran like me - I'm leaving and very sad
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Gabriel Batistuta

"Personally, I would not have any problems with Bielsa staying in charge, but half an hour after a World Cup match which saw Argentina pack their bags is not really the time to talk about such matters."

The Argentine media are less convinced about the coach.

The national team's failure is because "Bielsa has fallen too much in love with his own ideas", according to Ole sports newspaper.

His refusal to play Hernan Crespo and Gabriel Batistuta, "two of the most important strikers in the world", in the same team was at least partly to blame for Argentina's downfall, the paper said.

Meanwhile, the international retirement of Batistuta is a source of huge regret in his homeland.

"Argentina's greatest goalscorer said farewell to the national team leaving, in his last match, a pale image," Ole reports.

Batistuta, who was seen in tears at the end, confirmed there would be no going back.

"I don't think they will need a veteran player like me," the Roma forward said. "I am leaving and sad, very sad."

With 56 goals in 78 matches for Argentina, "Batigol" is the most prolific Argentine international of all time.

The display against Sweden on Wednesday was Argentina's best of the tournament, according to the media.

Midfielder Pablo Aimar was hailed in particular as "a breath of fresh air" by El Clarin, who felt his performance at least gave Argentina hope for the future.


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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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