Buenos Aires: Argentina have parted company with coach Jorge Sampaoli following their poor World Cup campaign, the federation announced on Sunday. “Today the Argentine football federation and Jorge Sampaoli agreed by mutual consent to bring to an end his position as head of the national team,” the AFA said in a statement.
The split comes just one year into Sampaoli’s five-year contract. The 58-year-old’s days as coach were numbered after his Lionel Messi-led side failed to fire in Russia, their campaign fraught with tension and dispute. Appointed in June 2017, his final game in charge was the last-16 defeat to France, who were crowned world champions earlier Sunday.
Divorce proceedings were complicated by Sampaoli’s reluctance to resign and a costly contract clause were the AFA to sack him. Reports suggest he walks away with a $2 million pay-off. Sampaoli’s record makes grim reading given Argentina’s usually high standards: seven wins, four draws and four defeats in 15 matches. He was hired with a big reputation after guiding Chile to the 2015 Copa America title — beating Argentina on penalties in the final.
He took over the Argentina reins with the two-time world champions struggling to qualify for the finals in Russia after an underwhelming World Cup qualification campaign. Sampaoli’s team drew the first three qualifiers under his watch but Messi scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Ecuador to send Argentina to Russia. But things quickly turned sour during the tournament itself as Messi missed a penalty in the opening 1-1 draw with minnows Iceland, followed by a chastening 3-0 defeat to Sunday’s beaten finalists Croatia. A 2-1 win over Nigeria saw them progress as group runners-up to the knock-out stages where they fell 4-3 to France, a defeat that sealed Sampaoli’s fate.