Soccer-Spain's Del Bosque cautions against complacency

Reuters

Oct 10 (Reuters) - Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has warned his squad not to lose focus in their World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Georgia.

"Football is very treacherous," Del Bosque told a news conference on Thursday in Palma de Mallorca, where they play Belarus on Friday. They complete their qualification campaign against Georgia in Albacete four days later.

"We can't be distracted, neither the coach nor the players. We have to be prepared so as not to make a mistake."

Spain are currently top of Group I, level on 14 points with France, but with a game in hand over their rivals.

Del Bosque's side beat Belarus 4-0 in Minsk last October, in a game that featured a Pedro hat-trick.

The Barcelona forward said they would not underestimate their opponents.

"We remember what happened against Finland," he said, referring to a frustrating 1-1 draw last March in Gijon as they failed to turn their dominance into goals and were undone by a swift Finnish counter-attack late in the game.

"They (Belarus) are going to make it difficult," he said. "We are favourites but you have to work hard.

"They are strong, they line up deep and look for the counter-attack," he added. "It is always complicated to play matches like that."

Victory against Group I's bottom team Belarus on Friday would mean unbeaten Spain need a point against Georgia on Tuesday to be certain of top spot ahead of France.

France, who snatched a 1-1 draw in Madrid in October last year before losing to their southern neighbours 1-0 in Paris in March, play their final game against third-placed Finland at the Stade de France on Oct. 15. They are already assured of at least a place in the playoffs.

Del Bosque will have to choose between goalkeepers Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes.

It remains to be seen if he will stick with team captain Casillas, who lost his place in the Real Madrid starting lineup last season under Jose Mourinho and has yet to win it back under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, or give Barcelona's in-form Victor Valdes a chance.

Del Bosque's future as Spain coach has come under the spotlight after he hinted that he will step down after the World Cup.

The Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) said it has not begun to consider any alternative for the post and will try to persuade him to stay on for two more years, As newspaper reported recently.

When told that his players have spoken highly of his leadership and would like him to stay on, the self-effacing Del Bosque gave a characteristic reply.

"What are the players going to say?" he asked. "They haven't said good or bad... Well, they haven't said bad." (Writing by Braden Philips in Barcelona; editing by Toby Davis)

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