Del Bosque and Igesund defend Spain's seven substitutions

World Champions Spain underestimated South Africa's improvement in Johannesburg on Tuesday night, while coach Del Bosque explains the substitution controversy
After Bafana Bafana shocked Spain 1-0 at the FNB Stadium in an international friendly in South Africa, the Spanish coach admitted that the hosts played better after the opening 15 minutes.

"We deserved to lose. We started right, but in the end it's likely they were better than us," said Vicente del Bosque.

Spain made a number of incisive moves early on, but were rightly caught offside with Atletico Madrid striker David Villa finishing clinically, but to no avail.

"We started with good intentions. I don't complain about my players' attitude. South Africa has improved," conceded the coach.

Read more on: Igesund: A fantastic result for Bafana

Then Bafana grew in confidence when a speculative Oupa Manyisa long range deflection hit the bar. South Africa looked hungrier and surprisingly began to win more possession, while giving Spain problems with their pace upfront. The passing move for Bernard Parker's goal would have even made Barcelona proud.

However, controversy had broken when Spain brought in a seventh substitution, even though only six are allowed in official friendly Fifa games, particularly when this was agreed before kickoff. South Africa coach Gordon Igesund protested when Napoli keeper Pepe Reina was allowed to replace the injured Barcelona star Victor Valdes when Spain had already used up their substitutions.

Rumours spread on Wednesday morning that the game won't be recognized as official by Fifa due to breaking the substitution rules, which means Bafana could lose out on their hard earned Fifa Ranking Points booster. Safa pointed out that they had done nothing wrong, and if anything, Spain should be punished and not South Africa.

Del Bosque explained how he could make the change.

"I am usually cautious with the last substitution, but today I wanted to give a rest to Iniesta. After Valdes' injury we requested an extra one and Fifa conceded to us," said Del Bosque.

So, if Fifa allowed the change then surely it's not Bafana's fault to lose their points opportunity. Reina told Cautro why he felt the substitution was justified.

"Regarding 'fair play' it's a normal situation that the keeper that has not played, takes his chance in that moment. I think it's sensible. The most important thing is that Valdes can be fit as soon as possible," said the Liverpool keeper on loan at Napoli.

Safa's director of communications Dominic Chimhavi pointed out why Bafana shouldn't be punished for an error by other parties.

“Normally, the team who have made the transgression is the team that is punished,” said Chimhavi.

“We abided by all the rules and regulations. As far as we are concerned the result stands. An error by the referee shouldn’t disadvantage and detract from what was an amazing performance and result.”

The South African coach Igesund explained his role in the controversy.

“(Spain) wanted to get their player on, the fourth official and the referee were debating about all this," said Igesund who some media experts believe should have sportingly allowed the substitution in a friendly game.

“I think that their players (Spain) thought that I was saying no. I didn't say that. Obviously it was a language barrier. I said to them quite clearly that the rules were made before the game started. They were coming to me and asking me if it was okay to bring the player on.

“I said that I didn't have a problem with that, I'm not the referee, I don't control the game,” concluded Igesund.


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