Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Heinze urges Maradona to remain as Argentina manager

Gabriel Heinze has asked Diego Maradona not to make a snap decision on his future as Argentina boss.

In the immediate aftermath of Saturday's 4-0 hammering by Germany in the World Cup quarter-final in Cape Town, Maradona indicated he was likely to end his controversial reign.

After struggling to make it through qualifying, Argentina quickly established themselves as one of the favourites in South Africa, only to succumb to a rampant German side at the Green Point Stadium and send a nation into mourning.

But Heinze insists progress has been made and while Maradona has never been far from the headlines, the former Manchester United star insists his legendary coach must think carefully before stepping down.

"Now is not the time to make these decisions," said Heinze.

"Surely it would be better to wait until the emotion has cooled.

"Maradona has worked very well and it would be great for him to continue."

The World Cup is certainly going to be a less interesting place for the 49-year-old's absence, even if his lack of tactical acumen was again missing yesterday as the world's best player, Lionel Messi, ended the tournament without a goal.

Keeping Inter Milan's Champions League hero Diego Milito on the bench as his team subsided was inexplicable, whilst the total absence of Esteban Cambiasso from the Argentina squad came back to haunt them as Germany rampaged through the central midfield area he would surely have patrolled with more diligence.

"I will defend the selection and I will defend this group," countered Heinze.

"We can take some positive things from our performances in South Africa.

"But as always results are the most important thing and we screwed up."

Even at 32, Heinze intends to carry on playing for his country.

Javier Mascherano was more coy, sending out mixed messages over his international future and failing to address the likelihood of him quitting Liverpool for Real Madrid at all.

For Maradona though, the pain seemed most acute of all.

The man who almost single-handedly took Argentina to the top of the world in 1986 and dragged them to the final four years later must now come to terms with his relative failure as a coach.

"We could not make our dream come true, but you always find a way back," he said.

"The most important thing is that we played in the right style.

"I may eventually leave but I want these boys to go on. I want them to showcase what they are and showing what real Argentinian football is.

"There has been this idea that players who can become millionaires from all around the world were no longer interested in playing for Argentina.

"Well, that has been dispelled. The players came in from Europe, came together and gave their all.

"We didn't get to where we wanted but I am sure whoever follows me will go on the same path."

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