Del Bosque eyes Kubala record
Vicente del Bosque has paid tribute to one of his predecessors as Spain coach, Ladislao Kubala, whose record of 68 matches in charge of the Iberian nation he will equal in Wednesday's friendly against Uruguay.
The world and European champions will be looking for their 57th victory under Del Bosque in Doha, a vastly superior record than Hungarian-born Kubala managed between 1969 and 1980, when there were far fewer international matches played.
Under the former Barcelona player and coach, who died in 2002, Spain won 31 games, drew 21 and lost 16. Del Bosque's side have lost only six and drawn five in a triumphant four-and-a-half-year run that yielded the country's first World Cup and a second straight European Championship crown.
"All of us who were contemporaries of Kubala have magnificent memories of him," Del Bosque, a former player and coach at Barca's arch-rivals Real Madrid, said at a news conference previewing the Uruguay game on Tuesday.
"He was a gentleman and someone who defended football above all else," he added.
Born in Budapest, Kubala signed for Barca in 1950 after arriving in the city with a group of players seeking refuge from Communist eastern Europe.
He represented Spain 19 times, lining up alongside Real great Alfredo Di Stefano, and after his playing career ended in the early 1960s he coached club sides including Barca, Espanyol, Malaga, Murcia and Elche.
Spain will be missing several stalwarts for Wednesday's clash with the South American champions, including captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who is nursing a broken hand, and injured midfielder pair Xavi and Xabi Alonso.
Centre back Carles Puyol returns to the squad after missing Euro 2012 through injury and will earn his 100th cap.
"We are happy that Carles is joining this club of internationals," Del Bosque said.
"He deserves it for what he has achieved and he is a player who has been an example both on and off the field."