Hierro hopes to repeat Zidane’s coaching success
SOCHI, Russia — Fernando Hierro didn’t hesitate when asked if he would be happy to become the Zinedine Zidane of the national team.
“Where do I sign,” said Hierro, smiling broadly only a few hours after being named Spain coach in a chaotic shuffle two days before the team’s opening World Cup match. “Hopefully.”
Hierro is taking on a major coaching job without any significant previous experience, just as Zidane did at Real Madrid. The former France great went on to win three straight Champions League titles as coach before quitting last month.
Hierro took over as Spain coach on Wednesday, shortly after the national soccer federation’s shocking decision to fire Julen Lopetegui for accepting a job to lead Real Madrid next season without letting officials know in advance.
Hierro’s first match in charge will be on Friday against European champion Portugal in the teams’ World Cup opener in Sochi.
“I couldn’t have said ‘no,’” Hierro said. “I wouldn’t forgive myself.”
The 50-year-old Hierro, who was acting as the federation’s sports director in Russia, has loads of experience as a player but his only head-coaching job was with second-division club Real Oviedo two seasons ago. He had previously been Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant at Real Madrid after Zidane left the post in 2014.
“I only have one year of experience with Oviedo and one year of experience as an assistant coach,” Hierro said. “(But) I’ve been near a ball for 30 years.”
The former defender spent most of his career with Madrid, including two seasons as Zidane’s teammate, before finishing his playing days with English club Bolton in 2005. He has experience from playing in four World Cups with Spain, starting in 1990 and ending in 2002. He also played at two European Championships, in 1996 and 2000.
At Real Madrid, he helped the team win five Spanish league titles and three Champions League trophies, including as a teammate of Zidane in 2002.
Hierro said coaching remained in his plans but admitted he wasn’t expecting it to happen like this.
Padres beat Cardinals, lock up fifth straight series win
ST. LOUIS — Eric Lauer carried a shutout into the sixth inning, Manuel Margot had three hits and the San Diego Padres beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 on Wednesday night to win their fifth straight series.
Freddy Galvis drove in two firstinning runs for San Diego, which has won five of seven. The Padres hadn’t won five consecutive series since 2010.
Marcell Ozuna homered for the Cardinals, who have lost three of four.
Lauer (3-4) gave up two runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. He’s 3-0 when getting two or more runs of support.
Brad Hand recorded his 21st save in 23 opportunities. He got Jedd Gyorko to ground into a double play after hitting Yadier Molina to start the ninth.
St. Louis starter Luke Weaver (3-6) gave up four runs and nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. He has just one win over his last 11 starts.
Margot, who singled in the second and fourth, stretched the lead to 3-0 with a run-scoring triple in the sixth. Raffy Lopez followed with a broken-bat single off reliever Austin Gomber for a 4-0 lead.
Margot has hit safely in his last six games, going 9 for 20. He had two hits in a 4-2 win Tuesday.
San Diego reliever Jose Castillo struck out all four batters he faced after following Lauer.
This is part four of a series where I compete against Yuma-area high school coaches at their sport and write about the experience.
ntering his freshman season at Kofa, Assante Nicewander approached his dad, Kings boys soccer coach Jamie Nicewander, and said he wanted to try out goalkeeper.
The elder Nicewander thought his son was a little crazy.
“I thought to myself, ‘Wait, that ball’s moving how fast at you?’” he recalls. “‘You’re not getting this from me.’”
It takes a certain type of athlete, and soccer player, to want to step between the posts and put their body on the line to stop rocket shots.
Neither Jamie Nicewander nor I are that type of athlete.
So when we met earlier this week for part four of my “vs. coaches” challenge — this one a best-of-three penalty kick shootouts against Nicewander — I knew it might be my first chance for a victory. We’d each try to stop each other’s penalty kick attempts, but it’d probably come down to whichever of us shanked an attempt first.
“Yeah, I won’t be diving,” Nicewander announced as we examined the hard ground on the “grass” field at Caballero Park. “I’m 45 (years old), I won’t be diving.”
I’m 27, and wouldn’t be diving either.
Nicewander, of course, would have the edge in the kicking department. He claimed he’d be able to place the ball exactly where he wanted.
I have zero soccer background — except for a few years of “Kick and Chase” two decades ago — whereas Nicewander has been around the game for decades. He admits he wasn’t necessarily the star that some of my other opponents in this challenge — such as Cibola distancerunning coach Kris Norton — were, though.
“My kids are far better than I ever was,” Nicewander said. “By far.”
Assante, now 21 and in the Air Force, was a threeyear starter at goalkeeper for the Kings under his dad, as was Gavin — now 19 and a student at Northern Arizona University — at forward. And Nicewander’s two youngest sons — Tiernan, 13, and Jiago, 11 — both play for his club program, Spartans FC.
“I didn’t play year-round like they do,” Nicewander said. “For me and my family, sports wasn’t anything that they placed importance on — hunting and fishing was. That was the big deal. I killed my first bear when I was 12.
“Sports were like, ‘OK, you did sports, that’s fun, that’s cute.’”
A son of military parents, Nicewander moved quite regularly growing up. He was born in San
KOFA BOYS SOCCER COACH JAMIE NICEWANDER unsuccessfully attempts to make a diving save against Yuma Sun sports editor Grady Garrett during their penalty kick shootout Monday afternoon at Caballero Park. Garrett won the challenge, though Nicewander may...
1st PK Round: 2nd PK Round:
YUMA SUN SPORTS EDITOR GRADY GARRETT unsuccessfully attempts to save a shot by Kofa boys soccer coach Jamie Nicewander during their penalty kick shootout Monday.