South Americans shake up their coaching staff
This entry was posted on Monday, August 9th, 2010
South American Football Associations put changes in place for 2014
Even though the next men’s World Cup is nearly a full four years away, many leagues, teams, players and coaching staff are already strategizing about how their nation can be the 2014 champions. Brazil, who are the hosts of the next tournament, seem especially anxious to take back the crown that has not been theirs since 2002. Another South American team, Argentina, is also making fast changes to its coaching line-up at least, in preparation for the 2014 games. Both of these teams, especially Argentina, are known for tumultuous turns of events in regards to their team’s leadership.
As of July 24, Mano Menezes—who previously held head-coaching positions with Brazilian professional football clubs Grêmio and Corinthians Paulista—will relieve Dunga of his duties as the head coach of the most successful national football team in history. While Dunga publicly announced that he would stand down from his position after Brazil’s 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) officially removed him on July 4.
Menezes will make his first appearance as the Brazilian national team’s coach on August 10, 2010, when they go head-to-head with the United States at the New Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey. Menezes has been welcomed with open arms so far, despite other questions about his appointment, due to his preferred playing style, which is similar to Dunga’s. The only significant difference between Dunga’s and Menezes’ teams is the average age of players on the squad—Menezes has kept only four players that took the field from Dunga’s 2010 team, none of whom are over 27 years old. The youngest player on the team that will play in New Jersey is 18-year-old Neymar da Silva.
Argentina, who lost to Germany 4-0 in a surprising slaughter, went away from the 2010 games with generally good marks. Unlike other known powerhouse teams like France and Italy who performed poorly throughout the games, Argentina played as they always did until their final match. Coach Diego Maradona is a contested figure among worldwide football fans—but when Argentina returned home from South Africa, they were welcomed back to Buenos Aires as heroes. Even before leaving the African continent, Julio Grondona, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) president, allegedly patted Maradona on the back after the final match against Germany. Then, the AFA publicly offered Maradona the coaching position at the 2014 World Cup.
The AFA rescinded that offer this week, however, and Maradona isn’t going down without a fight. The Argentine team was in shambles 21 months prior, and Maradona came in and pulled the group back together. But from the early stages, it wasn’t all easy with Maradona. He wanted to choose his assistant staff, but since he had no experience as a coach, the AFA didn’t approve. National team director Carlos Bilardo, who Maradona played under in the 1986 World Cup that Brazil won, was called in to assist.
Now Maradona is pointing fingers and calling AFA officials liars and conspirators. “Treason is everywhere,” he said to reporters, according to the New York Times. While throwing a tantrum certainly won’t get Maradona back on the coaching squad, his fate doesn’t seem as sealed as that of Brazil’s Dunga, who himself said he was not willing to coach Brazil for the tournament on home turf.
Whether they are doing it intentionally or not, it seems advantageous for these South American teams that this coaching drama is taking place now in 2010, still just weeks after the conclusion of this year’s World Cup. Perhaps four years will be enough time for each of these football giants to work out their enormous issues, and finally get back to winning again.