sport

Martino relishing challenge

New Argentina coach Gerardo Martino has expressed pride at being handed the role following his exit from Barcelona earlier this summer.

The 51-year-old was handed the reins by the Argentinian Football Association on Tuesday - replacing Alejandro Sabella, who left his post following the 1-0 World Cup final defeat to Germany last month.

"(It is hard) to express how proud I am to be in this position, that the AFA has entrusted such an important job to me," he said at his unveiling in Buenos Aires, according to the Argentina Football Association's website. "From now on, we have to work to keep the team at the standing they have achieved."

Martino, who signed a two-year deal as Barcelona coach last summer but departed after 12 months, had planned to take time out after returning to South America but acknowledged the national post was just too good to turn down.

"On my return from Barcelona, I had decided to stop for a while," he said. "Obviously, the Argentina team is a job that does not come along every day. It is an emotional commitment because it is a job desired by all, and it caused me to re-analyse things.

"Our goal is to remain in line with the work of Alejandro."

Martino's first game in charge will be the September 3 friendly against world champions Germany in Dusseldorf.

It will be Martino's second spell as a national team coach after a lengthy stint as Paraguay boss from 2006 to 2011, highlighted by a run to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup and an appearance in the 2011 Copa America final.

The Rosario-born tactician has a lengthy CV as a club coach in South America, having taken charge of eight teams, but he is best known internationally for his time at Barcelona, even though he failed to deliver the sort of success his immediate predecessors had made routine.

Martino left Barcelona after the final day of last term, when they were beaten to the title by Atletico Madrid after a 1-1 draw beaten the two sides at the Nou Camp. The Spanish Super Cup was his only trophy in a single season with the club.