The Paraguay Football Federation has pulled-off a minor coup in persuading Gerardo Martino, the coach who guided the national team to an unprecedented quarterfinal appearance in South Africa, to stay on as head coach of the national team through next summer's Cope América. On Friday, coach and federation confirmed a deal that could extend through the 2014 World Cup.
Martino was one of the coaching stars at the South African World Cup, coming to forefront when Paraguay got a result from Italy in their first match. Martino stayed in the spotlight while Paraguay won Group F and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Along the way, Martino continuously seemed to make the right call with his set-up, balancing his wealth of striking talent against his need to augment a relatively thin midfield. Against Spain, his plan of exerting pressure through central midfield gave the eventual champions an unexpected quarterfinal scare.
Martino, in the wake of this summer's finals, had planned to leave the team to pursue jobs at the club level, but after last week's decision to stay on through next year's confederation championship, the Argentine has entered into a deal which will run through 2014, with one caveat:
"We have agreed with (Paraguayan Football Federation president Juan Angel) Napout to continue through 2014, with the promise of a pause after the Copa America to sit down and review what has been done up to that point and decide whether we will complete the remaining three years," Martino told local radio in comments carried on the Paraguay Football Federation's website.
"The conclusion came sooner than expected," he added. "Here, in Rosario, all is good. I consulted with my family and decided to say yes and immediately talked with the president of the federation to confirm the issue."
Martino took charge of Paraguay in 2006, having led Paraguayan club power Libertad to the a league title. As a player, he enjoyed success with Newell's Old Boys in his homeland of Argentina, appearing once (in 1991) for the national team.
As a coach, his successes have been in Paraguay, where he won three Primera Division titles prior to becoming coach of the national team.