2018 qualification fears force Argentina to fire Bauza with four games left

April 11 – Just days after being given the dreaded vote of confidence, Edgardo Bauza has been sacked as Argentina coach, with the team outside the automatic qualifying places for next year’s World Cup.

Argentina are fifth in the 10-team South American qualifying group, with only the top four assured of qualifying for the tournament in Russia.

Finishing fifth would mean a play-off against a team from Oceania but that would represent something of a humiliation with the unthinkable scenario of failing to make the finals for the first time since 1970.

Bauza, 59, was appointed in August and guided his side to three wins, two draws and three defeats.

“We’ve told Bauza he’s ceased to be the national team coach,” said Argentina Football Association president Claudio Tapia. “The national team is playing badly and everyone knows it.”

Bauza’s final match was 2-0 defeat to Bolivia which came hours after captain Lionel Messi was given a four-match ban for verbally abusing an official.

Argentina have four games left in qualifying, with their next fixture against third-placed Uruguay on 31 August.

Bauza’s contract had been set to run until 2018 if Argentina qualified for Russia. Sevilla’s Chilean boss Jorge Sampaoli is the leading candidate to step in according to unconfirmed reports.

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