December 26, 2011

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 26 (Reuters) - As Diego Simeone arrived in Spain on Monday to take charge of Atletico Madrid, former Argentina coach Alfio Basile was stepping into the vacancy he left at Racing Club.

Racing vice-president Rodolfo Molina said the club had ironed out minor issues with Basile, who won the Copa America twice with Argentina and will begin his fourth spell as their coach before the Clausura championship starts in February.

"We talked through the differences we had and everything was resolved. We're very happy to be able to start 2012 with a coach and now we must get down to work," Molina told sports daily Ole.

Basile, speaking on Radio Belgrano, said he was very optimistic about Racing's title chances in the new year.

"I've got a lot of faith in the squad, the players in it. I have the right ones. Next year will be very good," Basile, nicknamed Coco, said.

Basile, who won both titles in the 2005-06 Argentine league season with Boca Juniors, has been out of work since January 2010 when he quit Boca to end his second spell with the club.

The 68-year-old brushed aside criticism he was too old to still be coaching, saying: "Those comments are idiotic. Tell that to (Alex) Ferguson, (Luis) Aragones. I'm up to date."

Basile said he was keen to retain wayward but talented Colombia striker Teofilo Gutierrez, who has had a turbulent year at Racing and said on holiday in his home country that he did not want to return to the club preferring a move to Europe or one of Argentina's two biggest clubs, Boca or relegated River Plate.

"He is a guy I like, he's fundamental for my system. I've got to convince him (to stay). It's one of the things I have to discuss with the directors," he said.

Basile, who will be officially presented to the media later in the week, is a Racing man through and through having spent most of his playing career as a central defender with them, winning the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup in 1967. He also played for Cesar Luis Menotti's 1973 title-winning Huracan side.

With a gravel voice and slicked-back hair that give him the appearance of an aging tango singer, Basile is also one of only two coaches to have lifted a trophy with Racing since that pinnacle 44 years ago when he steered them to the South American Supercopa in 1988 during his first spell as coach.

Tuesday is the 10th anniversary of Racing's last title, the Argentine Apertura which they won under coach Reinaldo "Mustard" Merlo.

Racing, based in the Buenos Aires suburb of Avellaneda, finished this season's Apertura this month in joint second place, 12 points behind runaway winners Boca Juniors.

Among Argentina's "Big Five" clubs, Racing are the least successful of the professional era since 1931 with seven titles but they won nine league crowns in the amateur years including seven in a row from 1913 when they earned the nickname "The Academy".

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