Former Mexico and Real Madrid legend Hugo Sanchez believes Spain deliberately lost against Japan on Thursday (December 1) to avoid facing Brazil in the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup.
On being quizzed on whether Spain purposely chose to finish second in their group, the former Real Madrid legend said on an ESPN show (via the Daily Mail):
''I assure you. I was not there and I’m not in the mind of Luis Enrique but he had thought about what was the best way to avoid playing Brazil in the quarter-finals. Yes, there is a risk but it’s a risk worth taking. It’s not that they fear Brazil but they respect them.''
The fellow panelists did not approve of Sanchez's opinion, the former Mexico international went on to state that coach Luis Enrique would never admit that he let Japan win. He added:
''The coach is never going to admit it. Managers don’t say: 'I let them win.'"
The South East Asian side came from behind to beat the 2010 World Cup champions in the last match of their Group E fixtures to secure a place in the Round of 16. The Blue Samurai secured the historic win despite having only 17% of total possession in the match at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Courtesy of their win over Spain, Japan finished at the top of Group E, which means they will face the winner of Group G in the next round. Germany and Costa Rica were the two teams who exited FIFA World Cup as Japan and Spain qualified for the next round.
Brazil finished at the top of their group despite losing against Cameroon in their last match on Friday (2 December). As things stand after the end of the group fixtures, the Selecao will face South Korea while Spain will lock horns with Morocco in do-or-die matches on 6 December.
Football community congratulate Cameroon as they become the first-ever African team to beat Brazil in a FIFA World Cup
Cameroon pulled off an injury-time miracle through Vincent Aboubakar’s goal to become the first-ever African team to register a win over South American giants Brazil in a FIFA World Cup.
The striker, who plays for Saudi-based club Al Nassr, scored an injury-time goal in the second half on Friday as Cameroon secured their first win of the tournament, to finish third in Group G with four points.
Aboubakar was sent off for his celebrations after the goal as he received his second yellow card of the game. However, African fans and the football world cherished the history-making event.
Here are some of the reactions to Cameroon's historic win over the Selecao: