Vicente del Bosque has defended Spain’s trip out to Africa this international break, whilst also revealing part of his Ballon d’Or vote.
The tactician is midway through a double-header of friendlies on the African continent, with La Roja set to follow up a controversial match in Equatorial Guinea with a return to South Africa, where they won the 2010 World Cup.
“There are those who perceive anything negatively, which I can accept, but there have also been some very positive things,” considered Del Bosque on Saturday’s game in Malabo, on COPE.
“At a social level, 20,000 children have welcomed us with love and the happiness that we have brought is incomparable. And in sporting terms there have been good things.
“Is there an increased risk of injury in these games? It is football, anything can happen.
“And political tension? We have not thought about the political element, to strengthen anyone or anything.
“I do not feel we have done anything wrong, on the contrary, I feel that we have done something positive for Spain and for some kids in Equatorial Guinea.
“South Africa? There was a very strong commitment from our President with South Africa and up until now we had not been able to fulfil it.
“Distances are not an issue now, we have 10 hours on the player, we can sleep…it’s no problem.”
The Coach was asked of the news he had signed a new contract before the team’s defence of their world title next summer in Brazil.
“It’s a minor issue, it is signed. The important thing is to have motivation to do our work and fufill our responsibility regardless of results.
“I’ve been lucky enough to spend so many years at the same club and to be able to enjoy these six years of success with the national team.
“I’m not one for gloating or thinking about the past. We should be looking ahead, but whilst enjoying the moment. We are not made of stone.
“The World Cup will be very difficult. It is not that I am afraid, but there are some very tough teams. Any of those in the group stages are dangerous and can win.
“I’m not saying we are not aspiring to be champions, but I cannot say we are going to be because it comes from within me.
“Brazil are one of the strongest candidates, but anyone else can also win. Portugal, I hope they are at the World Cup, we have a good rivalry with them.”
Del Bosque was asked who he had voted for in the Ballon d’Or polling, and he offered the names of the three fellow Coaches he has nominated.
“I have voted for [Jupp] Heynckes, Rafa Benitez because he is Spanish and won the Europa League and [Luiz Felipe] Scolari, who won the Confederations Cup.
“I have voted for titles, which is the most objective data.
“What players have I voted for? The two that are Spanish, the third I will leave unknown…”
Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta are Spain’s only names on the 23-man shortlist.