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By ESPN Staff

Lopes back as Vasco coach for sixth stint

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 31 (Reuters) - Vasco da Gama coach Alfredo Sampaio quit on Monday after 12 games in charge and was immediately replaced by Antonio Lopes for a remarkable sixth stint at the helm.

'Alfredo left because of a relationship problem with the players,' club president Eurico Miranda told Radio Tupi before adding Lopes would take over.

Sampaio stepped in last month when former Brazil striker Romario resigned in protest at interference by Miranda.

Romario was in charge for only five games. Lopes, who abandoned a career as a police detective to take up coaching, was previously in charge of Vasco from 1981-83, 1985-86, in 1991, 1996-2000 and 2002-03.

The high point came in 1998 when the team won the South American Libertadores Cup.

Lopes also won the Brazilian championship with Corinthians in 2005.

Three more first division clubs, Ipatinga, Vitoria and Gremio, have already changed coaches this year even though the season is still only warming up.

The season starts with state championships from January to April. These serve as a preliminary for the Brazilian championship which begins in May.