World Cup coaches to watch

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World Cup coaches to watch Empty World Cup coaches to watch

Post  junkman on Thu May 27, 2010 8:30 am

By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There is no grander stage on which to make a name for yourself than the World Cup, whether it is as a player or a coach.

A successful campaign can lead to a lucrative job offer, or it can cement a reputation for coming up big when it matters most.

On the flip side, underachieving in the World Cup will cost a coach his job, and likely lead to a number of lower-profile offers for years to come - just ask former France head coach Roger Lemerre.

With that in mind, here are five men who have a chance to either enhance their legacy, or do irreparable damage to it in the coming weeks.


Aguirre has been down this road before. Back in 2002 he was handed the job of rescuing Mexico's faltering qualifying bid, and came through. He then led El Tri to the top of a tough group that included Italy, Croatia and Ecuador before they bowed out in the second round to the United States.

The USA loss obviously wasn't well-received, but after a few successful stints in Spain on the club level with Osasuna and Atletico Madrid, the Mexican federation once again summoned Aguirre to save their sagging World Cup hopes.

Aguirre's team proceeded to win five of its last six games in qualifying, and with as strong a team as Mexico has seen in years, he will be expected to improve upon his last World Cup result.

Mexico is one of only four teams to qualify for the knockout round in each of the past four World Cups, but they haven't been able to get past that next hurdle.

France looms as the biggest threat to Mexico in Group A, but a failure to win the group will likely mean a second-round match with Argentina, which could spell the end of Mexico's tournament at the same spot as the previous four World Cups.


Even to this day, the name Maradona is synonymous with greatness. He was one of the best players the world has ever seen, and despite numerous off-the-field transgressions, which include drug addiction and tax trouble, he is still the most beloved figure in Argentina.

Blessed with a loaded roster that includes all-world talents Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, among others, Argentina is expected to make a deep run in this summer's competition. But what happens to the legend of Maradona if he fails miserably?

Argentina had quite a tough time just getting to South Africa as they finished fourth in the CONMEBOL region, and while Maradona knows what it is like to reach the final of the World Cup as a player, it is another thing entirely to lead a team there as a coach.

He may have helped the country win its last World Cup in 1986, but he sorely lacks big-time coaching experience and you wouldn't favor him trying to match tactics with the likes of Fabio Capello at England or Italy's Marcello Lippi.

Great players don't often make great coaches, and if Maradona fails to produce the kind of results this roster says he should, his god-like status may be in jeopardy.


Eriksson will be taking part in his third consecutive World Cup as a manager, but after leading England to successive quarterfinal appearances he endured a brief and disastrous stint in charge of Mexico before joining the Ivory Coast just a few months ago.

The Swede brings plenty of experience to the position after coaching on the club level in England, Italy and Portugal and claiming the 1982 UEFA Cup title with Swedish side Goteborg in the early part of his career.

But Eriksson received criticism in England for failing to take the Three Lions further than the last eight, while he was sacked after less than a year in charge of Mexico as his team struggled early in qualifying.

Now, Eriksson will be trying to restore a reputation for underachieving on the national team level with a talented Ivory Coast team that was the trendy pick of many to become the first African side to reach the semifinals.

The team has plenty of talent with players like Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Yaya Toure, but a tough group that includes Brazil and Portugal as well as the fact that Eriksson has had precious little time to make his mark on the team could spell an early exit.

And another disappointing campaign from an Eriksson-led team.


It has been eight years since Bielsa was in charge of the Argentina side that failed to escape the group stage in the 2002 World Cup, and this summer's tournament will offer him a chance at redemption.

The 54-year-old has developed a reputation for being a great tactical manager based on his intensive film study, and he will be trying to enhance his already sizeable popularity by helping Chile reach the second round in its first World Cup appearance in 12 years.

Bielsa's side played an attractive attacking style in qualifying, scoring 32 goals in 18 matches, and outside of group favorite Spain, Chile will be competing with Switzerland and Honduras for a spot in the next round.

Chile has reached the knockout round twice in seven previous World Cup appearances and if they are to get to their third, Bielsa's tactics and leadership will be a big reason why.

The team does not possess an overabundance of talent, but they do have an incredibly dedicated coach who is determined to erase the memory of 2002.


After leading Serbia to its first-ever appearance in the World Cup, Antic is in position to make more history by taking the team past the group stage.

Serbia is in one of the toughest groups in the tournament with Germany, Australia and Ghana, but it has proven to be a side that is capable of competing with the world's best after finishing ahead of France in qualifying.

Antic has gotten the best out of his players since taking the job in 2008, posting a 15-4-1 mark, and his team will be tested every step of the way with three tough games in the group stage.

His resume is impressive with stints at Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid among others, including a league and cup double with Atletico in 1996.

Those high-profile jobs should prepare him for the pressure of the World Cup, but his lack of recent experience is a big question mark.

Since a brief two-month spell in charge of Celta Vigo in 2004, Antic took the next four years off before taking over Serbia.

His ability to coach is not in doubt, but he must be on top of his game if he wants to avoid a short stay in South Africa.

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