AFA backs Bauza as world’s top ranked nation teeters on brink of Russia 2018 qualification

By Samindra Kunti

April 7 – The Argentine FA (AFA) has given its under-fire coach Edgardo Bauza a vote of confidence in spite of Argentina’s precarious World Cup qualifying position. 

Following a 2-0 defeat in Bolivia Bauza came under pressure as the result left Argentina in fifth spot in South America’s World Cup qualifying group for Russia 2018, outside of the direct qualifying slots but on course for an inter-continental play-off.

Speculation about Bauza’s future mounted, but the besieged coached has received the backing of Argentine FA president Claudio Tapia.

“He is the coach who has the national team today,” said Tapia. “There is a contract. We have to keep working, getting to know each other. Bauza is very good. I cannot think for everyone, I am the president of the AFA. There is a coach who has a contract in place.”

Argentina have been very inconsistent in qualifying, with marquee losses against Paraguay at home and Brazil away. Argentina will play Brazil in a friendly match in Australia in June. They return to qualifying action with a trip to Uruguay and a home game against Venezuela in August and September.

Their South American rivals Brazil have also usurped Argentina at the top of the FIFA ranking. For the first time in seven years, Brazil return to the top of world football. The Brazilians were dumped off top spot after their elimination from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The first team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Brazil have won nine consecutive games since Tite took over as coach. World Champions Germany sit in third place, Belgium have dropped out of the top five.

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