Messi backs Batista to replace Maradona

Lionel Messi is the latest Argentine player to come out in

support of interim national team coach Sergio Batista, who seems

likely to be given the job permanently to replace Diego

Maradona.

Arriving in Buenos Aires for Argentina’s friendly next week

against Spain, Messi told reporters that he wanted Batista to stay

on in the job. The sentiment was echoed by Argentina’s other top

striker Carlos Tevez, who arrived in Buenos Aires a few hours

earlier.

Tevez urged Argentine football officials to quickly name a

permanent replacement for Maradona, who was dropped as the national

team coach after Argentina’s 4-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup

quarterfinals. Batista was in charge in Argentina’s 1-0 victory

over Ireland on Aug. 11 and will be on the bench against Spain.