Hierro to carry on Lopetegui’s good work

Daily News - - SPORT - JOE CASSINELLI

MADRID: New Spain coach Fer­nando Hierro plans to carry on Julen Lopetegui’s good work as he pre­pares to lead his coun­try into their World Cup opener against Por­tu­gal to­mor­row.

Lopetegui, un­beaten in 20 games as coach, win­ning 14 and draw­ing six, was fired af­ter be­ing named as Real Madrid coach on Tues­day.

“The key is to change as lit­tle as pos­si­ble,” Hierro said yes­ter­day.

“A large part of the tech­ni­cal team is stay­ing here with us. We’ve watched the videos for the next game and we need to use our brains, be co­her­ent and, any­way, be­tween now and Por­tu­gal there’s not much room for change.

“I’ve been at all the train­ing ses­sions, in the day-to-day we’ve been present and I can’t change any­thing in these two days.”

Span­ish Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Luis Ru­biales sacked Lopetegui on the eve of the tour- na­ment, cit­ing his con­duct in agree­ing to be­come the next Real coach with­out in­form­ing his cur­rent em­ploy­ers.

Hierro, a for­mer Real Madrid cap­tain, re­fused to crit­i­cise his old club for their con­duct, and ad­mit­ted the chance to coach his coun­try was an op­por­tu­nity too good to turn down.

“It’s a nice chal­lenge. I know the cir­cum­stances and Julen’s work has been fan­tas­tic and I wish him all the best,” he said.

“It was a de­ci­sion I had to take quickly – it was a case of tak­ing it or walking away, but I couldn’t say no. I’d have never for­given my­self.”

The 50-year-old’s only pre­vi­ous coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence came at sec­ond di­vi­sion Oviedo, but he be­lieves the play­ers are ready to put the change be­hind them and fo­cus on win­ning a sec­ond World Cup start­ing against Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal in Sochi.

“They’re great pro­fes­sion­als who are ma­ture and re­spon­si­ble. If I wasn’t sure that we couldn’t have a great tour­na­ment, I wouldn’t be here,” Hierro said.

“They are up for the chal­lenge, like all Spa­niards are. We need to get back on track and stay ma­ture in this mo­ment.

“The side will stay the same as it has done up un­til now, it’s up to us to move on and put this be­hind us and think about what we are rep­re­sent­ing. “No­body can take the dream away from us.” – Reuters

FER­NANDO HIERRO

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