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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 22:30 GMT 23:30 UK
Pekerman ahead of Ruggeri
Oscar Ruggeri in action for Argentina against Nigeria in the 1994 World Cup finals.
Ruggeri (left) won nearly 100 caps for his country
Former youth team coach Jose Pekerman is leading the chase to replace Marcelo Bielsa as Argentina coach.

Julio Grondona, president of the Argentine Football Federation (AFA), said Wednesday the job is Pekerman's - if he wants it.

"I'm going to speak with Pekerman," Grondona told Argentine radio station Rivadavia.

Open Quote
I want to take over the national team and I want to do it before I get too old
Close Quote
Oscar Ruggeri
"If he says yes, I will convene a meeting of our executive commmittee straight away and then we'll come to a decision."

Pekerman currently works as a co-ordinator for Argentina's national team selectors and coached the under-20 team that won the world championship last year.

Bielsa's contract is due to expire on June 30 and it is widely believed he will not get a new one after Argentina's humiliating first-round exit from the World Cup.

Former Argentina defender Oscar Ruggeri, who won 98 caps, has become the latest candidate to put his name forward.

Ruggeri, who was in Argentina's World Cup winning team of 1986, and played in both the 1990 and 1994 competitions, is a former coach of San Lorenzo in Argentina's first division.

Recently he coached Guadalajara in Mexico's first division but says he is now ready to fill the Argentina hot-seat.

"I want to take over the national team and I want to do it before I get too old," Ruggeri said.

"I want to give the team back its dignity. We've got the best players in the world but not the results to go with it."


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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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