Columbia fires national team coach

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia has fired national football team coach Leonel Alvarez after barely four months in charge.

Alvarez oversaw three World Cup qualifying matches during his tenure, a 2-1 win in Bolivia, a 2-1 loss to Argentina and a 1-1 draw against Venezuela.

“The federation’s executive committee has decided unanimously to change direction, take corrective action,” Colombian federation president Luis Bedoya said Tuesday.

The 46-year-old Alvarez took over in August after predecessor Hernan Dario Gomez left the job after he hit a woman in a Bogota bar.

After Gomez left, Colombia tried to appoint Gerardo Martino, who guided Paraguay to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup and the final of the 2011 Copa America, but the Argentine coach turned down the offer. Martino is again likely to figure in the list of candidates.

Bedoya ruled out the possibility that Gomez might return to the post.

“Gomez’s return is not convenient at this moment,” Bedoya said.

Alvarez, who played 101 times for Colombia and appeared at the 1990 and ’94 World Cups, was Gomez’s assistant until the Bogota bar scandal.

Alvarez oversaw two friendlies as caretaker coach and won the support of Colombia’s players, including Atletico Madrid forward Radamel Falcao, before being handed the job on a permanent basis.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on his official Twitter account that the federation should choose the “best coach available” to replace Alvarez.

“A foreigner should not be ruled out,” Santos tweeted. “If they need our support for that, they have it.”

Colombia’s next competitive matches are against Peru and Ecuador in World Cup qualifying next June, but Bedoya said the federation wanted to appoint a new coach before a friendly match against Mexico in the United States in February.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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