Sat, 28 Jan 2023

Madrid [Spain], December 8 (ANI): Following the team's shocking penalty shootout loss to Morocco in the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar, Spain confirmed the resignation of Luis Enrique as coach on Thursday.

The former Barcelona manager, whose contract with Spain was slated to expire this month, accepted full responsibility for his team's early exit from the tournament.

The Spanish Football Association stated that Luis Enrique would be replaced by Luis de la Fuente, who manages Spain's under-21 team. De la Fuente, 61, led Spain's under-19 team to a European Championship title in 2015 and the under-21s to the same title in 2019, while also coaching the squad that earned a silver medal in 2018.

"The RFEF would like to thank Luis Enrique and his entire coaching staff at the helm of the absolute national team in recent years. The RFEF has chosen Luis de la Fuente as the new national coach. The sporting director, Jose Francisco Molina, has transferred a report to the president, Luis Rubiales, in which he recommends the coach to lead the new chapter that begins after the World Cup in Qatar. The RFEF board of directors must approve the appointment next Monday," read a statement from the Spanish Football Association as quoted by ESPN.

The news of Luis Enrique's leaving is hardly surprising. Luis Enrique stated following Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Morocco that he would discuss his future with Spanish Football Federation head Luis Rubiales next week. However, the pressure on Luis Enrique grew, with supporters and national media asking for his resignation following what they called a fiasco.

Spain's players wanted Luis Enrique to stay as the head coach and spoke out in his support.

Luis Enrique, 52, led Spain to the Euro 2020 semifinals and the Nations League championship in 2021, and he recently led La Roja to the last four of the 2023 Nations League.

The Spanish FA had offered him a contract renewal prior to the World Cup, but Luis Enrique delayed making a decision until after the event.

Spain had the World Cup's third-youngest squad, with Gavi, 18, and Pedri, who turned 20 during the tournament, starting, and Alejandro Balde, 19, and 20-year-old forwards Ansu Fati and Nico Williams on the bench.

Spain couldn't have desired a better start to the tournament than a 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica, the country's largest World Cup victory. Concerns were raised after Germany scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 tie, and they were heightened after Japan came from behind to defeat Spain 2-1 in their last Group E encounter. (ANI)

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