Belfast Telegraph

Fernando Hierro warns Spain to remain fully focused ahead of Morocco clash

The 2010 world champions are closing in on a place in the knockout stages.

Spain head coach Fernando Hierro will not take Morocco lightly (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)
Spain head coach Fernando Hierro will not take Morocco lightly (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

Spain coach Fernando Hierro insists his side can take nothing for granted when they face Morocco in the World Cup on Monday – even though their opponents have already been eliminated.

After a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw with Portugal in their opening Group B game, Spain pulled off a narrow 1-0 win over Iran.

Hierro, who took over on the eve of the finals following the sacking of Real Madrid-bound manager Julen Lopetegui, has all but guided the 2010 World Cup winners into the knockout stages.

Diego Costa scored the only goal of the game as Spain beat Iran (Frank Augstein/AP)

A surprise defeat to Morocco could yet see them eliminated and the former Spain captain is keen for focus to remain in place in Kaliningrad on Monday.

“Our obligation is to play a good game, to get three points and if we can be at the head of the group -even better,” he said at his pre-match press conference.

“We know it is going to be a tough match, always when you play against teams who are eliminated you don’t know what they are going to do – it could be a big surprise.

Diego Costa has led the line impressively for Spain (Adam Davy/Empics)

“We can’t take anything for granted, we have to use our skills and our qualities and that is what is most important going into the match.

“We know that Morocco are an excellent team, they reached the finals of a World Cup after not being here for many years.

“They lost their first match in the last minute with an own goal and had an excellent game against Portugal – we are talking about a tough nut to crack.

Morocco already know they are heading home early (Tim Goode/Empics)

“If you have qualified for a World Cup we know they are going to be a tough rival, sometimes people may relax in their third match but we can’t afford that, we have to be very much awake and with our eyes open.”

Morocco are out having already lost to both Iran and Portugal in their opening two Group B matches.

Both Iran and Portugal picked up narrow 1-0 wins over the African outfit and, while he knows his players will be heading home after the match, coach Herve Renard wants a positive performance.

Herve Renard will oversee Morocco at the Kaliningrad Stadium (Tim Goode/Empics)

“We have to force ourselves to find something to fight for so we can compete in the best possible psychological condition,” he said.

“The most difficult thing is to play these kinds of matches knowing that we will have to pack and go home and leave the competition.

“When you are not up to the job it is easier to accept but as I have said before we have to be professional and, in particular, we are going to play a team for which we need to be fit from a psychological view or it will be difficult to play against Spain otherwise.”



From Belfast Telegraph