World Cup: Spain sack Luis Enrique after Qatar 2022 flop, Latest Football News - The New Paper

World Cup: Spain sack Luis Enrique after Qatar 2022 flop

DOHA - Luis Enrique was sacked as Spain coach on Thursday after the team’s elimination in the round of 16 at the World Cup with the country’s Under-21 manager Luis de la Fuente named as his replacement by the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

“Both the president, Luis Rubiales, and the sporting director, Jose Francisco Molina, have told the coach their decision,” the RFEF said in a statement.

“The RFEF has chosen Luis de la Fuente as the new (Spain) coach.”

The federation added that it wanted to thank Enrique and his staff for their work, but has decided to start a “new project”.

“The sporting director of the RFEF has given the president a report, in which it was determined that a new project should start for the national team, with the objective of continuing the growth achieved in the last few years thanks to Luis Enrique and his colleagues,” it said.

“He opted for young talent and has sown hope for the future of the Spanish team. The RFEF enthusiastically wishes Luis Enrique and his team the best of luck in their future professional projects.”

Spain hammered Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening game in Qatar but suffered a shock defeat by Japan that resulted in a second-place finish in Group E.

They were strong favourites to beat Morocco in the first knockout round but lost 3-0 on penalties after the game finished 0-0 following extra time.

Enrique had said he wanted to stay on as coach after the defeat.

“I am very happy with the Spanish FA, the president and with (the sporting director),” he said.

“If it was up to me I would stay all my life, but that is not the case. I have to think calmly what is the best for me and for the national team.”

The 52-year-old, who was first appointed Spain coach in 2018, had a contract until the end of the year.

He is the fourth manager to depart after their teams were eliminated at the World Cup in Qatar – following Roberto Martinez (Belgium), Otto Addo (Ghana) and Paulo Bento (South Korea).

Spain last lifted a major trophy a decade ago at Euro 2012, while they have not won a single knockout game at the World Cup since triumphing in South Africa in 2010.

Enrique took over after Spain’s disappointing Russia World Cup showing – they also exited in the round of 16 – and led La Roja to the semi-finals of Euro 2020, where they were also beaten on penalties by Italy.

His time as Spain coach was characterised by a firm commitment to maintaining possession.

They attempted more than 1,000 passes against Morocco but ended up with nothing to show for it, forcing goalkeeper Yassine Bounou into only one save before the shoot-out.

De la Fuente, 61, joined the RFEF in 2013 as the Under-15 manager having worked with players like Marco Asensio, goalkeeper Unai Simon, Eric Garcia, Pau Torres, Pedri, Carlos Soler and Dani Olmo when they were youngsters. 

He led Spain to a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. - AFP, REUTERS

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