BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – Argentine coach Gerardo Martino has turned down an offer to take charge of Colombia.
Martino, who stepped down as Paraguay coach in July, was offered the job at a meeting with Colombian Football Federation president Luis Bedoya on Wednesday.
The federation said on Thursday that Martino had declined the offer. The decision leaves Colombia still needing to find a coach before World Cup qualifiers start in October.
Colombia has been without a coach since Hernan Dario Gomez resigned this month after reports he struck a woman in a Bogota bar.
Martino was nominated for the job after guiding Paraguay to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup and the final of the Copa America in July.
With the Argentine out of the frame, Colombian coach Alexis Garcia, in charge of La Equidad, and Uruguay-born Julio Avelino Comesana, who leads Deportivo Pereira, have been mentioned as possible alternatives.
The federation said Bedoya was authorized to restart conversations with ''several'' other coaches to fill the position.
Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos joined calls for Gomez to be replaced and suggested a foreign coach, but Bedoya said the priority was simply a candidate who ''gives us the profile to obtain qualification to the World Cup.''
Colombia last qualified for a World Cup in 1998.
According to reports in the Colombian media, Martino was offered $150,000 a month to take the job - $70,000 for himself and the rest for his backup team.
Colombia has an encouraging group of young players, led by striker Radamel Falcao. The side performed encouragingly in the Copa America in July, but was knocked out in the quarterfinals.
Colombia has a friendly against Honduras on Sept. 3 in New Jersey and is hoping to confirm another warmup match against Costa Rica three days later in Washington.