Soccer-Quilmes turn to great Caruso to plot escape from drop

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Survival specialist Ricardo Caruso Lombardi has returned as coach of Quilmes ahead of their relegation tussle with Colon in the Argentine first division on Wednesday (2000 GMT).

Caruso, who had a previous spell with Quilmes in 2011/12, has earned a reputation for steering teams clear of the drop including current title holders San Lorenzo in 2012 and Argentinos Juniors last year.

"I've signed a four-month contract until June. Afterwards we'll sit down to see if we carry on," the 52-year-old, who has replaced the sacked Blas Giunta, told reporters.

"In three months we have to do what wasn't done in a year," he added referring to the remaining 17 matches in the Final championship, the second of two in the season, which kicked off on Feb. 7 and ends in May.

"On Sunday, I spoke to Blas Giunta with whom I have a good relationship. He deserved a different ending, unfortunately he didn't have time to work (on the team)."

Quilmes are fourth from bottom of the relegation standings, which are based on teams' average points over three seasons. Three teams will go down in May.

Giunta, a former Boca Juniors midfielder who had previously coached in the second tier Primera B Nacional, was sacked after Friday's 2-0 defeat at Godoy Cruz in Mendoza.

Having taken charge with seven matches left in the Inicial championship, he presided over one win in nine games including two defeats in the Final.

Godoy Cruz, Argentinos Juniors and Colon make up the current bottom three of the relegation table.

Godoy Cruz and Argentinos Juniors are both in action on Wednesday with Argentinos are at home to San Lorenzo (2215) while Godoy Cruz visit River Plate (0030 Thursday).

Leaders Estudiantes, the only team to have taken a maximum six points from the opening two matches, host Copa Sudamericana holders Lanus (2215). (Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Toby Davis)