Spaniards hope pitch improves

AFTER an uneasy win over Iraq and with a number of records on the line, Spain are hopeful that the playing surface improves for the team's final Group A match against South Africa so they can get back to their preferred attacking football.

AFTER an uneasy win over Iraq and with a number of records on the line, Spain are hopeful that the playing surface improves for the team's final Group A match against South Africa so they can get back to their preferred attacking football.

Spain managed to overcome Iraq's defensive strategy - which often saw at least eight players behind the ball - for a 1-0 win that put them into the Confederations Cup semifinals.

Aside from overcoming the Asian champions' difficult game plan, Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez were a couple of the players who said the terrible Free State Stadium surface, usually a rugby field that has been hampered by unseasonable rain, also played a factor.

"It wasn't a nice game but we made it to the semifinals," Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets said yesterday. "We weren't at our normal level because of the field and because of the rivals who stacked five players at the back. But that's football."

Spain, Fifa's top-ranked team, can become the first country to win 15 straight games with a win over South Africa tomorrow, when they can also match Brazil's record 35-game unbeaten run. - Sapa-AP

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