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Sampaoli facing Argentina sack

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Soccer Football - World Cup - Argentina Press Conference - Kazan Arena, Kazan, Russia - June 29, 2018 Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli during the press conference REUTERS/John Sibley

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is heading for the exit door following his team’s World Cup elimination by France, reports said on Monday.

Rumoured to be at odds with players, including Lionel Messi, Sampaoli is expected to be sacked after just a year in charge, even though there are another four years to run on his contract.

“More alone than a lone madman,” screamed sports newspaper Ole on its front page. “The exit is that way.”

The problem lies, though, in Sampaoli’s reluctance to resign and a contract clause that would oblige the Argentine Football Association to pay around $15 million to get rid of him, reports said.

“Management want Sampaoli to go, but the coach is resisting,” added Ole, which organised a poll among 100,000 Argentines and found 82 percent wanted rid of him. Sampaoli’s record since he was hired in 2017 makes grim reading: seven wins, four draws and four defeats.

He was hired after guiding Chile to the 2015 Copa America title. He took over the reins with the two-time world champions struggling to qualify for the finals in Russia after an underwhelming qualification campaign.

Sampaoli’s team drew the first three qualifiers of his rein but Messi scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Ecuador in the final match to send Argentina to Russia.

Things turned sour during the tournament itself as Messi missed a penalty in a draw with Iceland, followed by a 3-0 defeat to Croatia.

Newspaper Clarin attributed “40 sins” to Sampaoli, including “never fielding the same side two matches running” and “arguing with his assistant”.

He did not win any fans by describing elimination as “a frustration” rather than a “failure”.

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