BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP)World Cup winner Lionel Scaloni will remain as coach of Argentina to the end of the 2026 World Cup.

The Argentine Football Association and Scaloni confirmed the deal on Monday. They didn’t elaborate.

The 44-year-old Scaloni and AFA president Claudio Tapia met in Paris before the FIFA awards late Monday, when Scaloni was named men’s world coach of the year.

”When trust is high, communication is clear and effective,” Tapia said on Twitter in a post with himself and Scaloni smiling and drinking tea in the French capital. ”We continue to trust our project of national teams to Lionel Scaloni, the World Cup winning coach.”

Scaloni’s contract expired after Argentina won the World Cup in Qatar on Dec. 18. Long negotiations followed.

Scaloni took over at the end of 2018 as a temporary measure, and received waves of criticism for his lack of experience. He had never coached a professional team. One year later, the job was his permanently.

He guided Argentina to the 2021 Copa America title, the team’s first in 28 years. Captain Lionel Messi and other key players repeatedly said they wanted Scaloni to remain on the job for the 2026 World Cup.

At the awards in Paris, Scaloni said, ”The most beautiful thing is making your country happy, your people happy.”

Argentina’s first match since Qatar – and another celebration of the world champion – will be a March 23 friendly against Panama at Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires.

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