Batista leads Argentina in post-Maradona era

Last Updated: Tue, Aug 10, 2010 13:59 hrs

​Dublin: Argentina will begin the post-Diego Maradona era with a friendly against Ireland on Wednesday, looking to imitate the style of play that led Spain to World Cup glory last month.

Interim coach Sergio Batista has Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo Higuain available in a squad selected last month by Maradona, whose contract was not renewed by the Argentina Football Association after the team's quarterfinal exit to Germany at the World Cup.

Batista, who is also Argentina's youth team coach, is seeking a victory that would further his claims to replace Maradona on a full-time basis, and believes the type of football played by Spain and the country's leading club, Barcelona, is the way to go.

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"I think it is good to copy Spain's system," Batista said. "I like Barcelona's game and it's what I want more than anything else for Argentine football. But the main priority will be to play as a team."

Batista, who will be in charge when Argentina play Spain in a friendly in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7, is one of several names being considered for the vacant coach's position, with Estudiantes coach Alejandro Sabella and Claudio Borghi of Boca Juniors also reported to be in the running.

Batista guided Argentina to gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Messi was part of that title-winning side and Batista claimed he had the backing of the Barcelona forward and the team's other leading players.

"I think Messi offered it because he knows how I am, how I handle a group," Batista said. "I hope we can be together a long time."

Several players left out of Argentina's World Cup squad have been recalled for the Ireland match, including forward Ezequiel Lavezzi and midfielders Jesus Datolo and Fernando Gago.

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni was hospitalized with nausea on Tuesday, a day before the friendly at Lansdowne Road, leaving his assistant Marco Tardelli to take charge of training. The Football Association of Ireland said the 71-year-old Trapattoni's condition was not serious.

Ireland, which did not qualify for the World Cup finals, is waiting on the fitness of striker Kevin Doyle (calf) and Richard Dunne (knee), but Aiden McGeady, Shane Long, Caleb Folan and Marc Wilson have been ruled out because of injury.

Tottenham striker Robbie Keane, who is set to win his 100th cap for Ireland, could start on his own up front if Doyle is not passed fit.

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