KRASNODAR, Russia (AP) – With only two days to go before Spain’s opening match at the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was fired as national team coach after accepting a job to lead Real Madrid next season. Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales, who made the announcement on Wednesday in Krasnodar, later said Fernando Hierro would replace Lopetegui as coach for Spain’s match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday. The 50-year-old Hierro, a former national team player and Real Madrid captain, will be taking on his first major coaching job. He had been acting as the federation’s sports director and was already in Russia with the national team. Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn’t the best solution but it was needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Madrid’s announcement. “The federation cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed five minutes before the press release,” Rubiales said. “We have been compelled to act.” Rubiales, who took over as president last month, said Lopetegui disrespected the federation’s values and it was the only decision he could make. “It’s a difficult situation, but we are not the ones who determined the action that had to be taken. The federation has its values and it has to maintain them,” Rubiales said. “It may look like a weakness now, but with time this will make us stronger.” Rubiales said he tried to keep the Madrid announcement from being made public but it wasn’t possible. He said he had to make the decision — which was supported by the federation’s board of directors — to “send a clear message” that things have to be done properly. There were reports that players tried to persuade Rubiales to change his mind and keep Lopetegui on the job. “We are the national team. We represent this emblem, these colours, our fans, a country,” Spain captain Sergio Ramos wrote on Twitter. “Our responsibility and commitment is to you. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, together.” Because he was fired, Madrid won’t have to pay the US$2.3 million of the termination clause on Lopetegui’s contract. Rubiales said that although the federation’s financial situation was not ideal, money was “not the most important thing in a moment like this.” Lopetegui did not attend the news conference but was expected to speak to the media after returning to Spain. Hierro was expected to lead his players for the first time in a practice session later Wednesday. The former defender spent most of his career with Real Madrid but finished his playing days with English club Bolton in 2005. He played in four World Cups with Spain, from 1990 to 2002, and in two European Championships, 1996 and 2000. Hierro was Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane left the post in 2014. He coached second-division club Real Oviedo two seasons ago and was Malaga’s general manager after leaving his sports director position with the Spanish federation in 2011. After Madrid’s announcement that it hired Lopetegui, critics immediately began questioning some of the coach’s decisions with the national team, including his choice to leave some Barcelona players such as Sergi Roberto out of the World Cup squad. There were also questions about how Lopetegui would be able to fully focus on the national team while also having to discuss off-season signings for his new club. There are six Madrid players in Spain’s team for the World Cup. Lopetegui’s name had not been mentioned by Spanish media among the probable candidates for the Madrid job, which opened up after Zidane unexpectedly quit. Last month, Lopetegui agreed to extend his contract with the national team through 2020. “I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot. He is a top coach, and that made it harder to make this decision,” Rubiales said. “Winning is important, but above that, we need to know how things have to be handled.” It was a difficult departure for the 51-year-old Lopetegui, who took over from Vicente del Bosque after the 2016 European Championship and had been credited with reviving a team that was on the decline after winning Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. By successfully blending talented youngsters and veterans from its golden generation, Lopetegui kept Spain unbeaten through 20 matches in charge, comfortably leading the team to the World Cup from a qualifying group that included Italy.
Kohli recalled watching Indias triumph under Dhoni on TV Kohli recalled watching Indias triumph under Dhoni on TV in the inaugural World T20 championship in 2007 in South Africa. “I, along with the whole country, was watching the final (against Pakistan) and it was more special as that was before (advent of) IPL. No one actually knew what the format is really like and the excitement of that particular event was massive. “That was a major milestone as far as Indian cricket is concerned. It was virtually the launch of MS Dhoni – the captain – the way he expressed his tactics on the field, the way he led a very young team at a world stage. “Guys like Rohit (Sharma), S Sreesanth – all these guys were new to the team. The way he led them at a world stage, making them believe that this can be done. From there on he became this big figure in terms of captaincy in world cricket. His captaincy was praised all over and he became a figure of reputation for Indian cricket all over,” Kohli, then 19, said. In a thriller, India had defeated Pakistan by a narrow margin of 5 runs to lift the first ICC World T20 title in Johannesburg. PTI NRB SSR KRK FK FK
By Bharat Sharma New Delhi, Mar 17 (PTI) In a departure from convention, Indias chief boxing coaches S R Singh and Shiv Singh have been left out of the contingent for the Commonwealth Games to held in Gold Coast from April 4-15.Mens chief coach S R Singh and womens chief coach Shiv Singh will be travelling with the 12-member CWG squad tomorrow but only for the one week training camp at the Australian Institute of Sports in Canberra.The two senior coaches will head back to India after the training stint and will be replaced by assistant coaches from India in the squad.During the Games, High Performance Director Santiago Nieva and womens high performance manager Raffaele Bergamasco will lead the coaching contingent for India.It has been learnt that this decision has not gone down well with the Indian coaches. Former India coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, who has been associated with both mens and womens team in the past, was a regular member of the contingent in multi-sporting events like the CWG and the Olympics. R K Sacheti, executive director at Boxing Federation of India, said leaving out the Indian coaches was a call they were forced to take. It is a 21-member contingent including 12 boxers, five coaches, two physios and a video analyst. “According to the Commonwealth Games Federation rules, the support staff size cannot be more than one third the size of athletes contingent. The foreign coaches have to be there, so unfortunately someone had to miss out,” Sacheti told PTI.advertisement “However, I don see it as much of an issue and there will be junior coaches who can be the communication link between the players and foreign coaches. Also, the Indian coaches will be there with the team for the entire training period. It is only that they will not be with them during the games,” he added.A BFI source said the decision was also dictated by the fact that the coaching contingent couldnt be entirely made of leaders. The ringside seconds comprise the chief coach and an assistant coach.”The leading positions are being held by Santiago and Raffaele and the coaching squad cannot just have leaders. Assistants have a job to do so they have to be in the contingent and thats why the Indian chief coaches are being left out,” the source said on condition of anonymity. PTI BS PM BS BS