I must fight for place in Spain for Confederations Cup, says Iker Casillas
Skipper says he is not assured of Confederations Cup spot after warming bench with Real
Spanish captain Iker Casillas has admitted that he is not assured of his place in the side for the upcoming Confederations Cup, having not played a competitive match for the past four months.
Goalkeeper Casillas made his comeback in Spain's unconvincing 2-1 win over Central American minnows Haiti in a friendly in Miami on Saturday night and said he appreciated starting a lot more after being dropped by former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho at club level.
"It has seemed like a long time, but I also have to look on the bright side and now moments like this taste better," he said. "I am happy, but I was also a bit nervous because I have spent such a long time without playing.
"I see myself fighting for my place, but as I have said before I start at a disadvantage with respect to my teammates. I will fight with Pepe [Reina] and Victor [Valdes] to try and help the team."
The 31-year-old also played down concerns that his relationship with club and international teammate Alvaro Arbeloa had cooled after the former Liverpool defender came out strongly in defence of Mourinho last week.
"He has his point of view and we don't have to go over it again. The important thing is I have returned to playing. I don't have to speak to him about anything. It is his opinion and I need to respect it. Moreover, he is right in a large part of what he said," he said.
On the field, Casillas did manage to at least keep a clean sheet during his 45 minutes of action as the world champions started brightly and were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes thanks to goals from Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas.
However, Vicente del Bosque's men then wilted in the Florida heat and were pegged back with 15 minutes remaining when Wilde Guerrier fired in a wonderful strike past Reina, who had replaced Casillas at half-time.
Spain held on, though, to record the win and will now travel to New York to face the Republic of Ireland in a final warm-up friendly tomorrow before they start their Confederations Cup campaign against Uruguay at the weekend.
"In the second half we reduced our pressure and intensity and Haiti responded," Del Bosque said. "This was a good test for our team."
Del Bosque, who made four substitutions in the second half, was not stunned by the close margin.
"Haiti are ranked 59 in Fifa, so it's not as if we were playing number 208," Del Bosque said. "They were a good first rival to help us adjust to the different time zone and to obviously improve our game."
The biggest smile after the game was on the face of Haiti goalscorer Guerrier, who revealed that his son Cristiano, named after Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo, had been born just a day before the game.
"It was a great honour to play against the world champions and I think we showed that Haiti is not only about the earthquake we had, but we showed that we have talent," said the defender.
"I was very pleased to get a goal against the number one team in the world. They are great players, but they are human beings, and they aren't from another planet."
Haiti play another exhibition tomorrow, travelling to Brazil for a match against Italy.
Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Associated Press