Football: New coach Gerardo Martino vows to keep Argentina in their high position

Argentina's national football team coach Gerardo Martino speaks during a press conference in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 14, 2014 during his presentation as new coach of Argentina's squad. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Argentina's national football team coach Gerardo Martino speaks during a press conference in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 14, 2014 during his presentation as new coach of Argentina's squad. -- PHOTO: AFP 

BUENOS AIRES (REUTERS) - New Argentina coach Gerardo Martino vowed on Wednesday to keep the World Cup runners-up "where they are and deserve to be".

Martino also said Lionel Messi's role is that of the world's best player and Javier Mascherano has been a team leader for a very long time.

Martino, who worked with both Argentina's leading players at Barcelona last season, was officially unveiled to the media as World Cup coach Alejandro Sabella's successor.

He signed a contract until the end of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers with an automatic renewal clause if his team go through to the finals in Russia.

"I'm proud to have this position and that the AFA people have put their faith in me for such an important job. From now I'll be working with the Argentine team to keep them where they are and deserve to be," Martino said.

"Leo's role is the same here, at Barcelona or wherever he goes, the role of the world's best player," Martino told a news conference at the Argentine FA's training complex on the city outskirts.

"Javier has for some time had a leadership (role). We coaches sometimes see things early on and don't need a World Cup to become aware of them. Javier was called up by (former coach Marcelo) Bielsa when he still wasn't a first team player at River Plate (in 2003)."

The 51-year-old, nicknamed "Tata", thanked Sabella for recommending him and promised to maintain the style of play that took Argentina under his predecessor to the World Cup final in Brazil last month.

Martino said that for his first match in charge, a friendly against Germany in Duesseldorf on Sept 3, he would pick the 23-man World Cup squad that lost the Maracana final 1-0 after extra time to the Germans.

Martino, who steered Paraguay to the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, resigned as Barcelona coach in May after one disappointing season in which the Spanish giants failed to win a major trophy for the first time in six years.

Barcelona chose him to succeed cancer victim Tito Vilanova in July 2013 after he steered Newell's Old Boys to the Argentine league title and South American Libertadores Cup semi-finals.

He had planned to take some time off when he returned home from Spain, but said: "The Argentina team is not a job like any other and implies commitment and above all sentiment."

Argentina winger Maxi Rodriguez, a member of Martino's Newell's team, spoke for the World Cup squad when he said last week: "Tata is the right fit for the national team We need another coach who will continue with the same work and adapt to what the squad want."

At the World Cup, Sabella began with a defensive approach that was criticised but Messi persuaded him to make changes that helped them evolve into a team capable of beating any opponents on their day and play their first final in 24 years.

"There's no coach in the world who disregards what's happening with their next rivals If it's necessary to make changes we'll do so," he said.

Asked if he would consider picking striker Carlos Tevez, who was overlooked by Sabella and has not played for his country since 2011, Martino said: "The door is open to all Argentine footballers."

Martino has a busy calendar ahead with more friendlies on a tour of Asia in October against arch-rivals Brazil in Beijing and then a visit to Hong Kong.

Next year, Argentina will play in the Copa America in Chile and will qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia if they are crowned South American champions.

The World Cup qualifying campaign is expected to start later in 2015 and the following year they will play in a special Centenary Copa America in the United States involving the 10 South American nations and six from the CONCACAF region.

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