Buenos Aires: Diego Maradona has said that if he were Argentina coach Sergio Batista, he would have quit following the side's early Copa America exit.
 
The Argentine Football Association says it will keep Batista on as coach despite their quarter-final loss on penalties to Uruguay - he only succeeded Maradona after last summer's World Cup quarters loss to Germany.

But Maradona says that decision is wrong-headed.

"If I had only beaten Costa Rica, (Argentina's sole Copa success) I would have gone of my own accord," Maradona said.

"What is happening right now is not the fault of the players. Julio Grondona is doing just what he likes," Maradona asserted, in allusion to the AFA president, with whom he was in regular conflict during his ill-fated stint as coach.

Maradona and Batista were teammates in the side which won the 1986 World Cup but the two have been at loggerheads since Batista took over after the former was forced out.

Just as the Copa started, Maradona asserted Batista should not complain about being in the spotlight and if he didn't like the accompanying pressure should "cross the border to Uruguay, where nobody would recognise him," unlike his predecessor, who is instantly recognised worldwide.

"I can't speak much as I don't see the games," admitted Maradona, who agreed to coach Emirates side al Wasl and who has been preoccupied in recent weeks with his mother's deteriorating health.

Those commitments aside, he finds watching too painful.

"When the players come onto the pitch it's like a knife being twisted inside me," he revealed.

Maradona had blasted Batista before the Copa after the latter drew up a preliminary squad which included neither crowd favourite Carlos Tevez not the former coach's son-in-law Sergio Aguero.

Tevez flopped, being dropped after two games before missing the crucial penalty against Uruguay which finished Argentina off.

Aguero did do well, scoring three goals.

With Batista confirmed for now at the helm Argentina's next scheduled match is a friendly on August 10 against Romania in Bucharest. In early September they will face Copa giantkillers Venezuela in a gala match in India then take on Nigeria in Bangladesh on September 6.

(Agencies)