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World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia fires coach Edgardo Bauza

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia has fired coach Edgardo Bauza nine days before the draw.

The Saudi Arabia Football Federation announced the Argentine coach’s exit after only five friendlies in charge. The team lost to Portugal and Bulgaria this month.

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Bauza has been fired twice this year by teams in the World Cup lineup. He lost the Argentina job in April, after eight months in charge, when the two-time World Cup champions risked missing out on qualification.

In September, Bauza was appointed by Saudi Arabia to replace Bert van Marwijk, who was fired despite leading the team to its first World Cup since 2006.

Saudi Arabia joins Australia without a coach for the World Cup draw in Moscow on Dec. 1.

Argentina fires coach Edgardo Bauza

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentina has fired its newly appointed national head coach Edgardo Bauza after just eight months in the job, as the team struggles in qualifying matches for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The Argentine Football Association confirmed Monday that Bauza’s reign was over after just eight matches in charge.

“Bauza has been informed that he is no longer the coach of the national team,” AFA President Claudio Tapia told reporters.

Bauza, 59, only started the job last August when Gerardo Martino departed after Argentina’s loss in the final of Copa America Centenario.

That defeat prompted captain Lionel Messi to announce he was quitting the national team, and although Bauza persuaded Messi to change his mind and target the 2018 World Cup, the team’s fortunes did not improve.

During Bauza’s brief stint, Argentina had three wins, three defeats and two draws, all in World Cup qualifiers.

World Cup champions twice before, and beaten finalists in 2014, Argentina are currently fifth in the South American qualifying standings with four matches left. The top four qualify automatically with the fifth team advancing to a playoff.

Making matters even harder for Argentina is that they will be without Messi for three of the remaining matches because the five-time World Player of the Year is serving a ban for insulting a linesman during a qualifier last month.

Tapia said a news conference would be held Tuesday to discuss the coaching position.

The next manager has not yet been named but local media have speculated that Argentina-born Jorge Sampaoli, the coach of Spanish club Sevilla, is a possible candidate.

Report: Argentina expected to sack Bauza, hire Sampaoli

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With Argentina currently teetering on the edge of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying, the country’s federation is reportedly ready to make a change at the helm.

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According to ESPN FC, Argentina is set to sack manager Edgardo Bauza after his side recently lost to Bolivia during WCQ.

Argentina was forced to play that match against Bolivia without Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who served the first of his four-match suspension for verbally abusing a linesman during the Albiceleste’s 1-0 win over Chile.

ESPN FC reports that the Argentine federation is preparing to unanimously vote out Bauza and replace him with Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli, who previously coached the Chilean national team.

With Sampaoli reportedly eager to take the reigns of the Albiceleste and Sevilla’s sporting director exiting the La Liga side, everything appears to be in place for the veteran manager to take charge of the South American side.

Argentina currently sits fifth in CONMEBOL WCQ with four matches remaining in the final qualifying round. If the Albiceleste remain in fifth, they would have to face the top side from Oceania in a playoff to reach World Cup 2018 in Russia.

Argentina apologizes for coach Bauza’s comment on Messi

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says the Argentine Football Association has apologized for comments made by its national team coach Edgardo Bauza about Lionel Messi’s injury.

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Bauza said this week that Barcelona doesn’t take good care of its star player, who is missing upcoming World Cup qualifiers because of a muscle injury sustained while playing for Barcelona in the Spanish league.

Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives said in a statement that the Argentine association contacted Barcelona “to express its apology for the comments made by the manager” regarding Messi’s injury.

Vives said the Argentine association assured that Bauza had no “bad intention” whatsoever in making “unfortunate” comments.

Vives said Argentina and Barcelona are keen to work together “so that Messi recovers as quickly as possible.”

Short-lived: Messi set to announce Argentina comeback in September

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It’s been about a month-and-a-half since Argentina suffered its second straight Copa America final defeat in heartbreaking fashion, but the even more devastating aftereffects of the result could be already over.

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New Argentina boss Edgardo Bauza recently made his way to Spain to talk to Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who announced his retirement from the international game following La Albicelete’s shootout loss to Chile.

Despite Bauza’s claims that the two didn’t discuss a potential comeback for Messi on the international scene, Goal is reporting that the 29-year-old is prepared to continue with his country ahead of next month’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying campaign, which continues against Uruguay and Venezuela.

“We didn’t speak about his return,” Bauza told reporters following his meeting with Messi at Barcelona’s training ground. “It was a chat about football. I will call him in the coming days.”

Goal also stated that Messi will likely make an announcement in early September, prior to Argentina’s next two matches, formally giving the world notice that the Blaugrana star is back.

Argentina’s federation has been heavily in question over recent months after FIFA was tasked with taking over to remove corruption from within the organization.

Meanwhile, Argentina Olympic team manager Julio Olarticoechea has stated that neither he nor the rest of his staff were paid by the federation for coaching at this summer’s tournament.

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Argentina failed to advance out of the group stage after going 1-1-1 in Group D play.