FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023: Vilda says Spanish team is ‘united’ despite controversy ahead of tournament

Spain’s build-up to the Women’s World Cup was mired in an ugly player mutiny, but coach Jorge Vilda said there are no cracks in his squad ahead of their World Cup quarterfinal game on Friday against the Netherlands.

“The team is united. We have a group that competes and they are all fighting for the same objective, and they’re very motivated,” Vilda told reporters on Thursday.

Last September, 15 players declared themselves unavailable for selection around events they said impacted their emotional and physical health, directing the bulk of their complaints at Vilda. The Spanish federation backed the coach.

While only six of those players are at the World Cup, La Roja has already made history by qualifying for the quarterfinals for the first time in three appearances.

Also Read: FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023: Netherlands striker Beerensteyn glad ‘big-mouth’ US out of tournament

“We are concentrating on what we’re doing now, the 23 players, we are committed to achieving the same objective with the same willpower and we want to continue in this World Cup,” said Ivana Andres, one of the half dozen who returned to the team.

“We have an excellent relationship with Jorge,” added the Real Madrid defender. “We have total confidence in him. We believe that we are a team, not only the players but all the technical staff. And we all have shared responsibility in the match. If we win, we all win and if we lose, we all lose.”

Damaris Egurrola, who was born in the U.S. to a Dutch mother and Spanish father, made her senior debut for Spain in 2019 but switched to the Netherlands in 2022, saying she had issues with Vilda. The Lyon midfielder will take the pitch for the Dutch on Friday.

“We worry about our players and the players that we can include in the lineup and I would not change any of my 23 players for anyone else,” Vilda said when asked about Egurrola.

Also Read: FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023: Bronze says England not happy with performance

The 42-year-old, who has coached Spain’s senior team since 2015, praised how hard his players have worked at the World Cup.

“They have been impeccable in all training sessions. They are true professionals. And there is no doubt whatsoever about that,” Vilda said. “Today we trained in 6 degrees (43 Fahrenheit), windy, they did an excellent training session.

“They trained when it was hot and also trained fabulously, and they’ve taken care of themselves to be in perfect conditions for the game.”

Friday’s winner will face either Japan or Sweden in the semi-finals on Tuesday in Auckland.

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