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ARGENTINA TAPS MARADONA ASNATIONAL COACH

SOCCER

Diego Maradona will become Argentina's national soccer coach next week, leaving the team in the hands of an icon whose achievements on the field have been undercut by a history of erratic behavior and drug abuse.

The Argentine Football Association said on its Web site the appointment will be made Tuesday

"We're holding meetings trying to lay out the coaching team," Maradona said Wednesday. "I'm anxious for it to become official."

Maradona replaces Alfio Basile, who resigned after poor performances in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup and an elimination in the quarterfinals of the last World Cup.

Maradona led Argentina to a World Cup title in 1986 and the final in 1990.

"We have what it takes to make sure Argentina smiles while watching the national team play," he said.

Maradona's problems began with a positive test for cocaine in 1991 and have included subsequent battles with drugs and obesity.

And his coaching experience does not point to success. He led Deportivo Mandiyu in 1994 and Racing Club in 1995 but in both cases left before his contract expired.

No Beckham, no game: The proposed loan of David Beckham to Italy's AC Milan prompted the Los Angeles Galaxy to postpone its Dec. 11 game at an Australian team. The MLS team said it could not guarantee the English star would play in Brisbane so it called it off "to avoid disappointment for the many fans that were expected to travel ... from all parts of Australia."

TENNIS

Big three move onat Paris Masters

Defending champ David Nalbandian, top-ranked Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer reached the third round of the Paris Masters. Nalbandian, who beat Nadal in last year's final, beat Nicolas Kiefer 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to set up his third match in three weeks against Juan Martin del Potro. They split the first two. Nadal beat Florent Serra 6-2, 6-4 and faces Gael Monfils. Federer, who next faces Marin Cilic, had the most trouble. He saved two set points in the tiebreaker and beat Robin Soderling 6-4, 7-6 (9-7).

ET CETERA

Horses:Midnight Lute, the only two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, has been retired. The colt trained by Bob Baffert won last year at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and Saturday at Santa Anita. He earned about $2.6-million during his career and will stand for $20,000 per live foal.

Sailing: Team New Zealand agreed to drop its lawsuit against Alinghi, holder of the America's Cup, clearing one hurdle for the next edition of the event. New Zealand sought damages of about $60-million after the 2009 America's Cup was delayed by a lawsuit filed by the U.S.-based BMW Oracle. It also alleged Alinghi was writing rules to exclude New Zealand. Oracle's suit, over the recognition of a challenger, remains unsettled.

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