Alejandro Sabella succeeded where the five previous Argentinian coaches failed in guiding Argentina to the World Cup semifinals. A look at the fate that befell his predecessors.
1994 — Alfio Basile
Nicknamed ‘Coco’ the highly successful club coach looked to have melded a bright attacking team into a potential champion.
However, he made the fateful decision to recall Diego Maradona out of retirement for the finals and despite him scoring a goal in the opening win over Greece his subsequent failing of a dope test destroyed the morale of the team and it exited in the last 16.
Basile stood down but was recalled in 2006 only to resign again in 2008 when the team lost to Chile for the first time in 35 years in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers....opening the way for Maradona to take over.
1998 — Daniel Passarella
The World Cup winning captain of 1978 was entrusted with the national coach’s job — Sabella was part of his coaching team — and took it to the finals in France.
Something of a martinet he refused to select homosexuals, demanded players not have long hair and wear earrings, which cost him talented players such as the long haired duo midfielder Fernando Redondo and striker Claudio Caniggia.
Despite victory over England in the last 16 it went out in the quarterfinals beaten by the Dutch.
Passarella stepped down and had a subsequent go at national team management with Uruguay but that too ended in failure.
2002 — Marcelo Bielsa
Nicknamed ‘Loko Bielsa’ (Bielsa the madman) he comes from a wealthy family who traditionally chose a legal career and one of whose brothers was Foreign Secretary.
Somehow he survived the humiliation of a first round exit in the finals and two years later guided a side including Javier Mascherano to the Olympic crown in Athens — ending a gold medal drought in the sport stretching back 76 years.
Always unpredictable he then decided to step down saying he was exhausted.
Subsequently answered Chile’s call and earned rave reviews for introducing new young talent although it went out in the last 16 beaten 3-0 by Brazil in the 2010 finals.
Now approaching his maiden season in France with historic Ligue 1 side Marseille.
2006 — Jose Pekerman
Hard to believe the reverence he is held in now in Colombia after the outstanding campaign in Brazil as he departed the Argentinian job heavily criticised when the team exited after a quarterfinal penalty shootout loss to host Germany in 2006 which also ended in an unedifying brawl between the two teams.
Pekerman, who once resorted to driving a taxi when his playing career ended through injury, was slammed for having been too cautious.
The worst was when he took off his most creative player Juan Roman Riquelme and also leaft the then teenager Lionel Messi cooling his heels on the bench.
2010 — Diego Maradona
His call up to the post in 2008 illustrated perfectly the desperate state of affairs of the national side as the former playing legend had singularly failed at the three clubs he had coached.
However, he saw off competition from the likes of Carlos Bianchi and the then inexperienced Diego Simeone. A record 6-1 defeat by Bolivia in the qualifiers did not augur well but he did enough to get the side to the finals in South Africa.
He looked to have transferred his magic to the players on the pitch as they eased through to the quarterfinals with four successive wins.
However, once up against a formidable unit like the Germans he seemed powerless to rescue the situation once they took a third minute lead.
It ended up in a 4-0 rout but he was initially asked to stay on but things never being straightforward where Maradona was concerned 12 days after that on July 27 he resigned accusing his bosses of betraying him.