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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Spain defender Dani Carvajal grateful for faith
showed by former boss Julen Lopetegui

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Spain right back Dani Carvajal said on Saturday that the squad had put the sacking of Julen Lopetegui behind them as they concentrated on trying to win this year’s World Cup.

Lopetegui was sacked as Spain coach and replaced by Fernando Hierro just two days before the Spanish kicked off their campaign with a 3-3 draw against Portugal in Sochi.

The Spanish followed that result with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Iran in Kazan and will now qualify for the last 16 if they draw their last Group B game against a Moroccan side that has no chance of reaching the next round.

"What happened with Julen has been forgotten and we are not looking backwards," said Carvajal, who will now have the former Spain boss as the coach of his club side Real Madrid.

"It was strange for all of us, but the main thing is for all of us to remain united and that is what happened," he added.

Carvajal made his debut against Iran after a thigh injury he suffered in the Champions League final against Liverpool had threatened to leave him without the World Cup, just two years after he missed the 2016 European Championships through injury.

"I can only be grateful to him (Lopetegui) for that, because he brought me hoping I would be able to recover and he showed confidence in me," said the defender, who added that he had "never" seen a World Cup where the sides were so evenly matched.
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UPDATE:

Vazquez: Spain aiming to build World Cup momentum

KRASNODAR Russia (Xinhua) -- Spain winger Lucas Vazquez admitted on Saturday that the Roja have not yet hit top gear at the World Cup as they prepare for their final group match against Morocco on Monday.

The 2010 champions can claim top spot in Group B if they beat the north African side, pending the outcome of Portugal’s clash with Iran.

"What we’ve seen in the World Cup so far is that no team has been able to win easily," Vazquez told a news conference at Spain’s World Cup base here.

"All matches have been evenly contested. I think the important thing in a World Cup is to improve as the championship progresses.

"What we want is to go from less to more and try to get to the end and win it, of course," the Real Madrid player added.

Spain’s campaign began in chaotic fashion when coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked a day before the tournament began after it was revealed he had accepted an offer to take charge of Real Madrid.

Under caretaker manager Fernando Hierro, Spain drew 3-3 in their first match with Portugal before grinding out a 1-0 victory over Iran.

"What we want is to be first (in the group) by beating Morocco," Vasquez said of the match in Kaliningrad.

"We have to get the job done and then we’ll see what happens in the other groups."

             

 

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