Claudio Tapia’s presidency of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) is still in its infancy but the early signs have been good and now the much-needed overhaul of the youth system is underway.
It seems a distant memory since the golden era under José Pékerman given the time when Argentina lifted five under-20 World Cups in twelve years has given way to a decade of failure.
With this in mind, the AFA have brought in two men who know exactly what it takes to achieve success at youth level and just like much of the current senior side, can see the advantage of having an identity and philosophy that flows through each stage of the system up to Jorge Sampaoli’s squad.
Pablo Aimar and Diego Placente were both under-20 World Cup winners in 1997 before making their mark at senior level and will oversee the under-17s and under-15s respectively.
Under the guidance of Juan Sebastián Verón, secretary of the youth sides, his old-Estudiantes colleague Hermes Desio has been appointed youth coordinator after his fine work in La Plata and the 47-year-old spoke of his joy at landing the position and working with Verón to appoint Aimar and Placente.
“We know that the national team is in the eye of the storm, but I am happy. It’s a great responsibility and an honour,” Desio said.
“When we talked with Pablo [Aimar] and Diego [Placente], both Verón and I loved their personalities and profiles. They know from the inside what the youth team represents, in fact, there are even murals of them (in Ezeiza) and that’s very important for boys
“Whether they have experience or not, we are confident in their capabilities and are happy to have them. They are surrounded by experienced people and both listen and allow help.”
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) July 13, 2017
Sampaoli’s ally Nicolás Diez had already been appointed under-20 coach and now Aimar, along with Hermes Desio’s brother Carlos and Enrique Cesana will take charge of the under-17s.
Diego Placente with assistant Adrián Gallara will manage the under-15s and will be straight down to work ahead of the Sudamericano in November, while Alejandro Saggese, another Estudiantes link, with Román Manassero will control the under-13s.
What had been badly lacking in recent years is the connection between the different age groups but what Tapia and Sampaoli appear to have outlined is a clear progression of tactics and ideas, allowing the players to move through the system maintaining a central idea.