July 26, 2010

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -- Diego Maradona said he wanted to continue coaching Argentina's national soccer team but only if he could keep absolute control over the choice of his assistants.

Maradona was due to meet the head of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), Julio Grondona, on Monday to determine whether he would stay on after Argentina suffered a bruising 4-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals.

"I want to continue. Whether I stay will be decided in the meeting I'll have with Grondona..., and the outcome of that will depend on what he wants and whether he accepts what I ask of him," Maradona told Argentine television on Sunday in his first comments to local reporters since the World Cup defeat.

"Continuing means taking charge and with the people I want," Maradona said, alluding to local media reports that the AFA would ask him to replace some members of his coaching team.

"There's no way I'll continue as coach of the national team if they want to take [Alejandro] Mancuso or [Hector] Enrique away from me...or if they want to impose someone or other on me."

Maradona gained world fame as a player in the 1980s but he has had a patchy performance as coach of Argentina.

He defended his team's performance in the World Cup, despite the painful exit from the tournament in South Africa earlier this month.

"We didn't deserve to finish that way, we had done good work," he said.

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