Argentina federation decides to sack coach Edgardo Bauza - sources

The executive committee of the Argentina football federation (AFA) has decided to relieve national team manager Edgardo Bauza of his coaching duties, sources have told ESPN FC's Hernan Castillo in Argentina.

AFA's leadership, in their first meeting since being elected along with new president Claudio Tapia last week, had been expected to vote unanimously on Friday to sack Bauza, with Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli reportedly being AFA's first choice to replace him. But an official announcement has been delayed.

"We didn't talk about Bauza tonight. We expect to do it in the near future," said AFA executive committee member Nicolas Russo after the meeting.

The AFA is working on negotiating financial details with Bauza, whose contract had been set to run until 2018 if Argentina qualifies for the World Cup.

But that is far from a certainty with the qualifying campaign currently in jeopardy, Argentina are fifth in South American qualifying with four games to play, and only the top four are assured of spots in Russia.

Tuesday's 2-0 defeat in Bolivia, combined with other results from the 14th round of matches, left the 2014 finalists in position for an intercontinental playoff against a team from Oceania.

The match was the first of four that Argentina will play without Lionel Messi, who was suspended by FIFA for insulting a referee in last week's 1-0 win over Chile.

Bauza was only hired last August, replacing Tata Martino, who stepped down following the Albiceleste's defeat to Chile on penalties in the Copa America final.

In eight World Cup qualifiers since Bauza took over, Argentina won three, drew two and lost two, including a 3-0 defeat to chief rivals Brazil in November.

Sources said Sampaoli, an Argentina native and former coach of Chile, is eager to take on the role, and that he has a clause in his contract with Sevilla that would open the door for him to leave. He would come "swimming or walking," one source said.

Sampaoli has Sevilla in third place in Spain's La Liga, eight points back of leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand. But he has yet to accept Sevilla's offer to extend his contract another year, with his current deal set to expire in June 2018.

Sevilla were dealt a significant blow already with the impending departure of sporting director Monchi, widely regarded as the man who nurtured the likes of Jose Antonio Reyes, Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas since assuming the role in 2000.

Earlier this week, Sampaoli spoke of his "dream" of working with five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, though reports in Spain interpreted his comments to mean that he was angling for the job at Messi's club Barcelona, which will open at the end of the season.

"My dream is to be in charge of Messi to see him every day from the touchline," Sampaoli told Diario Ole. "It's a unique dream to see Messi so close up, always. The form Messi is in is incredible. Who wouldn't like to be in charge of him?"

AFA secretary general Victor Blanco, who heads up Argentina club Racing, told ESPN FC Radio on Thursday that he would prefer to see Bauza stay on as coach, and that the country's first priority should be the appeal of Messi's four-match ban.

"The rest can be resolved later. We must meet with the secretary for the national team who understands what is going on inside the team," he said.

New AFA president Tapia has also recently voiced his support for Bauza, who was under heavy pressure to resign.

Tapia has worked to bring Argentina out of a crisis period that saw FIFA take over administration of the AFA after it fell into crisis following the death of Julio Grondona, who was president for 35 years until his death in mid-2014.

"Part of the situation we live in, in Argentine football, is due to the loss of representation at South American and FIFA levels," Tapia said. "Our task is to rebuild those ties. We have to sit down with the FIFA president, and hire the best professionals to reduce the sanctions [against Messi.]

"We have to make a profound analysis of all contracts signed by the previous administration. We will have to meet with him [Bauza]. Then we will see what is best. We have to give support to the coach, to give everything so Argentina can qualify."