Jorge Sampaoli has dreamt of coaching Lionel Messi.
If he is appointed coach of the struggling Argentina national football squad, he’ll have that goal realised.
But as the Albiceleste continue to find answers over a spate of woes that are hindering their march toward World Cup 2018 in Russia, Sampaoli’s hopes remain hanging in the air.
The former Sevilla manager has become the early choice to take on the hot seat after the sacking of Edgardo Bauza.
Bauza, who coached Argentina for just less than a year, the former San Lorenzo and Sao Paolo boss won just three out of eight games for the national squad, his inability to squeeze out the best from a star-studded lineup led by the talismanic Messi, standing out as main reason why he has been fired by Argentine football officials.
To cut the story short, Bauza is now out, and knocking on the door is Sampaoli.
In case he gets the nod, the 57-year-old Sampaoli will be under extreme pressure.
With Messi under suspension for insulting a match official, are fifth in the South American group with four qualifiers remaining.
The top four in the 10-nation group advance to the 2018 finals in Russia, while the fifth-placed country qualifies for a playoff against a team from Oceania, a hole Argentina badly want to avoid.
Bauza called the shots over eight matches, all 2018 World Cup qualifiers, with three wins, two draws and three defeats including the latest a 0-2 debacle against Bolivia.
If the Argentina Football Association can successfully acquire Sampaoli away from Sevilla at the end of the season, the latter would have until August 31 to hone Argentina’s next qualifier, a tough trip to play dangerous Uruguay in Montevideo.
Unless miracle happen once Sampaoli officially hops aboard, Argentina could be without their talisman in Uruguay and at home to Peru and Venezuela later this year.
A mountain to hurdle will be to get the ban reduced on appeal since Messi remains their biggest hope of leading them to football’s biggest stage.
If the appeal does not succeed, Messi would only come back for the final which could be a decisive qualifier away to Ecuador at high altitude in Quito this October.
Along the way, Argentina could mend their wound with a win in a friendly against long-time nemesis Brazil in June. But that is another story.
Though he has yet to be hired as official coach, Sampaoli must already be feeling the heat.
The task of handling Argentina’s campaign for the next World Cup is an acid test by all means.
At any rate, in his search for his dream to be called Messi’s coach, Sampaoli should be ready to be called upon.
He will just have to pray that the football gods are on his side.