An uncertain future but Jorge Sampaoli granted Argentina reprieve to take charge of Under-20s


It had been billed as Judgement Day for Jorge Sampaoli but after his meeting at Ezeiza with AFA president Claudio Tapia and vice-president Daniel Angelici, Argentina’s managerial situation is no clearer.

Despite having a contract that runs until the 2022 World Cup, Argentina’s dreadful campaign and subsequent last 16 exit in Russia was supposed to signal the end of the road for Jorge Sampaoli.

It still might but for now the 58-year-old remains and with his assistant Sebastián Beccacece having already left his post, Sampaoli has been tasked with taking charge of the Under-20s at the COTIF L’Alcudia tournament later this month.

Sampaoli will be in Valencia with the Under-20s until August 7th but the AFA have agreed that their executive committee will meet again at the end of July to review the coach’s performance.

The AFA statement read: “The meeting, which took place at the Ezeiza training facility and lasted about an hour, was about the performance of the national team in the World Cup.

“Meanwhile, at the next meeting of the executive committee agreed for the end of the month, the leaders will conduct a joint assessment of the coach’s work until this point.”

At this time Sampaoli may well find his time as Argentina coach is over but a number of stumbling blocks remain.

If reports are to be believed AFA president Claudio Tapia, displeased with the side’s performance in Russia, has already decided that another change of coaches is required but unless Sampaoli resigns, there are significant economic difficulties.

Sampaoli has no intention of walking away, pleading his case to Tapia and Angelici on Monday that for all the problems in Russia he is the man to continue the project and without a change of heart, the AFA will need to pay a compensation figure of somewhere between $8-12 million.

For an organisation already struggling for money this is not a possibility and so either a deal would need to be struck or Sampaoli would remain in charge.

Another option mooted is to leave the under-fire coach in charge for another year and make any changes after the 2019 Copa América when the figure to terminate Sampaoli’s contract would be significantly less. A move that might make financial sense but is less than ideal for the long term targets of the national team.

However, with this financial issue, the lack of realistic alternatives available at this time and a number of the coaching staff having left this week, there was little the AFA could do at Monday’s meeting.

Sebastián Beccacece, who would have been with the Under-20s for the COTIF L’Alcudia tournament, has already been presented as Defensa y Justicia manager after falling out with Sampaoli and although the Argentina manager is increasingly isolated he has provided the AFA with a quick solution to this particular problem.

Whether this will be enough to be granted a longer stay of execution remains to be seen but the AFA must find solutions to the number of issues surrounding the termination of Sampaoli’s contract if they are to push ahead.

There is no question that Sampaoli made errors in Russia, from his selections and tactics to the apparent loss of control within the squad but the AFA share a large amount of the blame for Argentina’s failings. Given time there is certainly an argument that Sampaoli would be a better option for long-term project but the World Cup may have left his position untenable.

3 responses to “An uncertain future but Jorge Sampaoli granted Argentina reprieve to take charge of Under-20s

  1. What a mess.

    While I admire Sampaoli’s desire to remain in the position, analysing his performance, it does not fill me with a whole lot of confidence.

    I think this is a real ‘sliding doors’ moment for Argentine football, not just with regards to who coaches the national team, but across the whole spectrum of the game in the country. Important changes need to be made, if it is going to keep up with other leading football nations. I just hope the AFA realises this.

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