Coach Luis Enrique backs Spain to stay hungry after historic rout

Coach Luis Enrique backs Spain to stay hungry after historic rout
Spain's head coach Luis Enrique, second from right, celebrates with players at the end of the World Cup Group E match against Costa Rica at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha Wednesday. (AP)
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Updated 24 November 2022

Coach Luis Enrique backs Spain to stay hungry after historic rout

Coach Luis Enrique backs Spain to stay hungry after historic rout
  • While the Spain coach thinks that too much flattery can weaken a team’s resolve, he is confident his side will stay grounded and focused

DOHA: Luis Enrique believes Spain’s hunger will only increase after they recorded the country’s biggest ever World Cup victory in an emphatic 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica on Wednesday.

The 2010 champions dominated their opponents, who did not manage a shot at goal in the whole match, and in their second group game on Sunday face a desperate Germany, who were beaten 2-1 by Japan earlier.

Spain’s previous record victory was a 6-1 thrashing of Bulgaria at the 1998 World Cup, a match in which Luis Enrique scored for La Roja.

However, while the Spain coach thinks that too much flattery can weaken a team’s resolve, he is confident his side will stay grounded and focused.

“I have no doubt that we will play the next game with the same spirit, if not more,” Luis Enrique told reporters.

“I have no doubts at all. It’s true that praise weakens you, but don’t worry about this group of players, I see them every day.

“(It won’t happen) because there will be changes in the line-up, because they want to compete, to work hard.

“I doubt that would happen, it’s never happened, this is a group of people ready to do things in the right way.”

The coach said he was surprised Germany lost their opening Group E game, although he recognized Japan’s threat.

“It was a surprise the way they started off, Germany, against Japan but there are surprises in football, you never know,” said the coach.

“Japan are a very good team, they’re a dynamic team, they have a lot of quality, quality players.

“You never know in football. We’re going to try to win the next match against them (Germany), we’re going to try to beat them, that’s the goal.”

Despite the superb display at Al Thumama stadium, Luis Enrique says he is planning on changing his starting lineup against Germany.

La Roja have plenty of depth on the bench, with the likes of Barcelona forward Ansu Fati and Atletico Madrid’s Marcos Llorente kept in reserve.

Debutant Alejandro Balde replaced Jordi Alba in the second half and impressed, while substitutes Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata both scored.

“I don’t know who will play,” Luis Enrique told TVE.

“If we achieve our objective, which is playing seven games, it will be everyone, not just 11 players.

“I don’t think I’ve ever repeated a line-up and I probably won’t repeat one.”

Ferran Torres netted twice, while Spain’s other goalscorers were Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio and man-of-the-match Gavi.

The team has been criticized in the past for not scoring enough goals and the Costa Rica destruction was a timely riposte.

“Many players have scored,” added the coach. “I’ve always read that we’re lacking goals, but since we’ve been in charge, we’re one of the teams that have scored the most goals. Those are the stats.

“A lot of our players have goals in them. We get forward after a lot of link-up play, and I’ve never been worried about goals.

“We play against Germany next and they have to win, and so do we. We’ll celebrate, go to dinner, and then start preparing for that game.

“Praise weakens you, but it’s much better to start preparing for a game like this.”


Ronaldo ‘insulted’ by South Korean player in World Cup loss

Ronaldo ‘insulted’ by South Korean player in World Cup loss
Updated 9 sec ago

Ronaldo ‘insulted’ by South Korean player in World Cup loss

Ronaldo ‘insulted’ by South Korean player in World Cup loss
DOHA: Cristiano Ronaldo was “insulted” by a South Korean player as he was substituted during Portugal’s 2-1 World Cup defeat on Friday, coach Fernando Santos said.
The 37-year-old skipper looked miffed and ambled off slowly when his number went up in the 65th minute.
Santos denied that was because he was upset at being hooked.
“He was angry with the player from Korea and everyone saw that,” Santos said after his side topped Group H despite conceding in injury time to fall to defeat for the first time in Qatar.
“The player was insulting him, telling him to go away (get off the pitch) so that’s why he was angry and everyone saw that.
“I saw the interaction with the Korean player and have no doubt about it.”
Becoming irritated by the line of questioning, Santos added: “He (the Korean player) was not aggressive, he was verbally aggressive.
“He was speaking in English to Cristiano and Cristiano said, ‘Well, perhaps he did not have a good day.’“
South Korean midfielder Hwang In-beom attempted to play down the controversy.
“I didn’t see it, I was too tired,” he said. “I was looking at the ground, so I didn’t see it and I have nothing to say.”

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out
Updated 02 December 2022

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out

Uruguay beats Ghana 2-0 at World Cup but both teams out
  • Suarez was distraught on the sidelines and covered his face
  • Suarez had been substituted when the screen at Al-Janoub Stadium suddenly flashed that South Korea was in second place

AL-WAKRAH, Qatar: This time, Luis Suarez cried on the sidelines after Uruguay were eliminated from the World Cup despite a 2-0 win over Ghana on Friday.
The result also put Ghana out of the competition.
Suarez played a key role in both first-half goals scored by Giorgian De Arrascaeta and Uruguay appeared headed for the round of 16 after inflicting more pain on Ghana 12 years after their now-infamous meeting in the quarterfinals at the World Cup in South Africa.
Then, Suarez denied Ghana a winning goal with a deliberate handball on the goal-line and having been sent off, he celebrated wildly on the sidelines when Ghana missed the resultant penalty.
Uruguay were in a position to go through in Qatar until South Korea’s late goal gave it a 2-1 win over Portugal in the other Group H game. That meant Uruguay needed to score one more goal in the dying minutes of its game to qualify.
They didn’t and were eliminated because they had scored fewer goals than South Korea in the group stage. Suarez was distraught on the sidelines and covered his face with his shirt having been substituted in what was likely his last World Cup appearance.
Uruguay’s goals came in a six-minute spell soon after Ghana raised more memories of the 2010 quarterfinal by missing a penalty.
A Suarez shot led to De Arrascaeta’s opener and Suarez set up the second with a clever pass that De Arrascaeta volleyed in. After those two strikes, Uruguay thought it was on its way to the knockouts.
Ghana captain Andre Ayew, the team’s only survivor from the 2010 squad, had his penalty saved by Sergio Rochet in the 21st minute and the game changed immediately after that. De Arrascaeta scored in the 26th and 32nd minutes to crush Ghana hopes.
But the Uruguayans were ultimately also crushed.
Suarez had been substituted when the screen at Al-Janoub Stadium suddenly flashed that South Korea was in second place in the group after a late goal against Portugal.
Uruguay surged forward in search of the goal that would have put it through. Substitutes Maximiliano Gomez and Sebastian Coates both missed late chances and Suarez was crying after the final whistle.


Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah
Updated 02 December 2022

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah

Saudi motorsport chiefs predict ‘best ever’ Red Bull Car Park Drift world final in Jeddah
  • Jeddah will host 21 drifters from 18 different countries who will battle it out to be named the Red Bull Car Park Drift King

JEDDAH: For the first time ever the Red Bull Car Park Drift World Final will be held in Saudi Arabia on December 8 in Jeddah.

Organizers Saudi Motorsport Company and Jeddah Corniche Circuit are promising fans the “best ever” season-ending event as tickets for the final have gone on sale.

Jeddah will host 21 drifters from 18 different countries who will battle it out to be named the Red Bull Car Park Drift King of Drift for 2022. 

Expert power control, pure pace, and the most delicate of touches will be the difference between victory and defeat for the competitors, set to deliver packed grandstands and a festive atmosphere.

For Saudi motorsport fans, the event will welcome three competitors from the Kingdom. Those drivers will be confirmed at a qualifying event on 3 December.

With tickets available for all fans of high octane, Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC) CEO, Martin Whitaker, said he is counting down the days to one of Jeddah’s biggest automotive moments. 

“I believe the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is one of the best ever venues in the long and impressive history of the Red Bull Car Park Drift and we expect an event which is more than equal to this stunning location,” he said.

“This is such a special event for the region, and we are so proud to be able to bring it to Jeddah and give drifting fans the chance to experience world-class competition.

“Of course, with three Saudi Arabian drivers competing in the final we expect the crowd to be more enthusiastic than ever and how special it would be to see a local driver crowned the King of Drift,” he added.

The Saudi drivers will go head-to-head with drifters who qualified in competitions from Jamaica to Mauritius, Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Kenya to South Africa, while the series also travelled through Poland, Estonia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, as well as Qatar, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Jordan and Lebanon.


‘Little Pep’ Gvardiol coming up big for Croatia at World Cup

‘Little Pep’ Gvardiol coming up big for Croatia at World Cup
Updated 02 December 2022

‘Little Pep’ Gvardiol coming up big for Croatia at World Cup

‘Little Pep’ Gvardiol coming up big for Croatia at World Cup
  • The fact that Croatia conceded only one goal in their three group games at the World Cup is largely down to the performance of Gvardiol
  • He’s nicknamed “Little Pep” because of the similarities of his last name with that of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

DOHA: For 90 minutes, the hulking, masked mass that is Joško Gvardiol kept Belgium’s big-name strikers at bay with timely tackles — none bigger than his stop on Romelu Lukaku two minutes into stoppage time.
Then the 20-year-old Croat who is fast becoming the most sought-after center back in Europe went over to the side of the field and reached up to embrace his mother and cry.
The fact that Croatia conceded only one goal in their three group games at the World Cup is largely down to the performance of Gvardiol, who, despite his hefty stature, is nicknamed “Little Pep” because of the similarities of his last name with that of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
“He’s the best defender in the world,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić said through a translator after Thursday’s game. “Even if he’s not currently No. 1, he will become No. 1.”
While he only recently extended his contract with Leipzig through 2027, Gvardiol is reportedly a big transfer target for Chelsea, which should have no problem paying a 50 million euro ($50 million) release clause inserted into his deal with the German club.
In the meantime, veteran Croatia defenders Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida, who are both 33, have taken Gvardiol under their wing. His addition to a team that in 2018 reached the World Cup final has added another dimension in terms of physicality and youth.
“He enjoys great support from Lovren both on and off the field, and Vida also helps with extra advice,” Dalić said. “I am happy to watch how good they work together.”
Gvardiol is wearing a face mask during the tournament because he broke his nose when he collided with Willi Orbán during a Bundesliga match on Nov. 10 — the day after he was named to Croatia’s World Cup squad.
Up next for Gvardiol and Croatia is a match in the round of 16 on Monday against a Japan squad that are coming off an inspiring victory over Spain and managed to advance ahead of four-time champion Germany, which was eliminated in one of the most competitive groups.
“Before the end of the group stage, if we could choose the opponent in the next round, maybe some would say Japan,” Dalić said Friday. “But after seeing that they beat both Germany and Spain, they are anything but an easy opponent.”
The core of Croatia’s team remains their experienced midfield trio of Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić and Marcelo Brozović — plus winger Ivan Perišić.
At the age of 37 with 158 international appearances, Modrić is still able to dominate soccer’s biggest games with both Real Madrid and Croatia.
Perišić, who is also 33, never seems to tire on the left wing. He ran 72.5 kilometers during Croatia’s seven matches in the 2018 World Cup and could break that mark in Qatar.
While coach Roberto Martinez announced he was leaving Belgium’s squad after their “Golden Generation” was eliminated following a 0-0 draw with Croatia, Dalić said he isn’t through with his national team — no matter how Croatia finishes this tournament.
“This team are a mix of youth and experience,” he said. “I have more plans for Euro 2024 and only then might I reflect on taking some other steps and moves in my career.”


Berhalter ‘hopeful’ on Pulisic fitness for World Cup last 16

Berhalter ‘hopeful’ on Pulisic fitness for World Cup last 16
Updated 02 December 2022

Berhalter ‘hopeful’ on Pulisic fitness for World Cup last 16

Berhalter ‘hopeful’ on Pulisic fitness for World Cup last 16
  • Chelsea star Pulisic suffered a pelvic contusion following a heavy collision while scoring the winning goal in Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Iran
  • Berhalter said Pulisic was on the mend and would be tested later Friday during training

DOHA: United States coach Gregg Berhalter is “hopeful” Christian Pulisic will be fit to face the Netherlands in Saturday’s World Cup last-16 clash but striker Josh Sargent remains a fitness doubt.
Chelsea star Pulisic suffered a pelvic contusion following a heavy collision while scoring the winning goal in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Iran.
The 24-year-old was subsequently substituted and went to hospital following the game for tests.
Berhalter said Pulisic was on the mend and would be tested later Friday during training.
“Regarding Christian, we’re going to see him on the training field today,” Berhalter told a news conference on Friday.
“It looks pretty good, but we’ll have to see him on the pitch to get confirmation of that.”
However, there remain concerns over Norwich striker Sargent, who also picked up a knock in the win over Iran.
“With Christian we’re hopeful, with (Josh) a little less so,” Berhalter said.
“But we’ll see. At this stage of the tournament it’s go time. If you can push through it, you do. I’m sure he’ll have that mindset.”
The United States advanced to Saturday’s second round meeting at the Al Khalifa Stadium after finishing second behind England in Group B.
Captain Tyler Adams said the American squad had been energised by the support at home, where record numbers of viewers have tuned into the USA’s games in Qatar.
“The support from the US has been surreal — it’s really cool to see how much a tournament can change the perspective of people watching soccer,” Adams said.
“That was one of our goals coming into the tournament. The further we go, the more support we gather. We want the next generations to come to have that support.
“When we can play an attractive style, and fight and represent the country in the right way, you’re going to gather that support.”
Berhalter said the US squad had “felt a responsibility to use this World Cup to create momentum in the United States for soccer.”
“That’s why we want to keep going and do well and make the country proud,” he added.