World Cup-winner Lionel Scaloni could quit as Argentina manager

Coach, who also guided team to Copa America glory, makes surprise comments about his future after win in Brazil

Lionel Scaloni took over as Argentina manager in 2018. AP
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Lionel Scaloni has revealed that might quit as Argentina manager despite guiding the team to Copa America and World Cup glory during his five years in charge.

The 45-year-old took over as manager in 2018 and led Argentina to the South American title in 2021 – their first major trophy since the 1986 World Cup – before the Albiceleste landed their third global title in Qatar last year.

So Scaloni's comments about his future, which came after Argentina's 1-0 victory over Brazil at Rio de Janeiro's famous Maracana stadium, were something of a surprise.

It was a win that kept Argentina at the top of the South American World Cup 2026 qualifying group, two points ahead of Uruguay, who had beaten Scaloni's side 2-0 on Friday.

That defeat was Argentina's first since lifting the World Cup at Lusail Stadium in Doha in December 2022.

“Argentina needs a coach who has all the energy possible and who is well,” said Scaloni after win in Rio.

“I need to stop the ball and start thinking, I have a lot of things to think about during this time.

“It's not goodbye or anything, but I need to think because the bar is very high and it's complicated to keep going and it's complicated to keep winning.

“These guys are making it difficult, so I need to think about it for a while. I will talk to the FA president and the players afterwards.”

His comments clearly came as a shock to his own players. “We are sure and hope that Scaloni will continue,” said defender Cristian Romero.

“Let’s see now he will have time to think; he didn’t say anything in the dressing room about it. We will try to convince him.”

Scaloni succeeded Jorge Sampaoli as Argentina manager in August 2018 after a brief spell in charge of the under-20 side before leading the senior team to a memorable period of success.

After beating France in the Qatar World Cup final, a tearful Scaloni described the victory as “a historic moment for our country”.

“I cannot believe that we have suffered so much in a perfect game” he said. “Unbelievable, but this team responds to everything.

“I am proud of the work they did. It is an exciting group. With the blows we received today and we keep taking, with the draws, this makes you emotional. I want to tell people to enjoy.”

Friday's game in Brazil – which was Argentina's first ever away win over their bitter rivals in World Cup qualifying – was marred by violent clashes between police and supporters.

Argentina captain Lionel captain Lionel Messi said the violence in the stands “could have ended in tragedy”.

Brazil captain Marquinhos had joined the Argentina players on the pitch in an attempt to calm the situation, and the defender admitted he was concerned about the clashes.

“We were worried about the families, women and children that we were seeing in panic up there in the stands,” he said. “Down on the pitch it was hard for us to understand what was going on, it was a very scary situation.”

The match eventually kicked-off 30 minutes late with defender Nicolas Otamendi's goal in the 63rd minute securing Argentina all three points.

Newcastle United midfielder Joelinton was sent off for hitting Rodrigo de Paul just three minutes after coming on a substitute.

Updated: November 22, 2023, 5:15 PM