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Del Bosque maintains suspense over Casillas

16 Jun 2013 00:46:59

Del Bosque maintains suspense over Casillas

Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque refused to reveal whether Iker Casillas will start in goal in Sunday's Confederations Cup opener against Group B challengers Uruguay in Recife.

Casillas, 32, has been Spain's uncontested first-choice goalkeeper during the glorious run that has seen La Roja accumulate successive victories at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

However, a hand injury means the Real Madrid man has barely played in 2013 and in his absence, Barcelona rival Victor Valdes has proved a more than capable deputy.

"We're going to wait until the last moment, but yes, I've more or less chosen my team," Del Bosque said at a press conference.

"Our three goalkeepers (including Liverpool's Pepe Reina) are excellent. They demonstrate it regularly with their clubs, which are three great clubs, and it gives them a special responsiblity."

Asked about Casillas, who spent the last months of Jose Mourinho's tenure as Madrid coach on the bench, Del Bosque insisted he was not unduly concerned by his recent activity.

"In recent times, Iker has had a setback in his career, but I don't think it would handicap him if he had to play the match tomorrow (Sunday)," he said.

"He's assumed his responsiblities very well in the last few years. He's just been through an unprecedented situation, which I imagine wasn't easy for him."

Casillas, who appeared alongside Xavi as joint-captain at an earlier press conference, responded to a question about his chances of starting by saying: "I don't know."

He added: "I'm approaching this tournament in a different manner to the previous ones. Obviously, the fact I've not played for a long time means I've got less rhythm than my team-mates, but since we first met up on June 4, the coach has been able to judge me."

Casillas played a bit-part in each of Spain's two warm-up games, replacing Valdes for the last 30 minutes of the 2-0 win over the Republic of Ireland and then playing the first half of the 2-1 defeat of Haiti.

"Against Ireland, I'd already rediscovered myself," he said.

"Before the match, I was a bit anxious because I hadn't played for a while and I knew I'd be under scrutiny, but it went well.

"I enjoyed rediscovering the continuity that I've had with the national team for the past 12 years."

Spain's only setback in their five-year dominance of international football was a shock 2-0 defeat by the United States in the semi-finals of the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa.

Despite the astonishing success they have since achieved, Xavi says it is a disappointment that still rankles.

"It might be the last Confederations Cup that we compete in, because of age and the fact you have to win a major title (to qualify)," said the Barcelona midfielder.

"We still haven't digested what happened four years ago in South Africa. We want to go and claim this title that Spain and our generation are lacking."


AFP

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