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Spain could go to 2023 World Cup with ‘B-team’ as 15 top players still barred from national team

Spain women's coach Jorge Vilda on Wednesday defended his depleted squad as the best he wants and bristled at questions about a revolt that has seen 15 players frozen out of the national setup for nearly five months.

The Spanish FA in September said the 15 had threatened to quit the team if Vilda was not fired and they would not be welcomed back until they recognized their mistake and asked for forgiveness.

Vilda duly left the cohort out of his squad for a pair of friendlies against Sweden and the United States, and guided Spain to a 1-1 draw against the Swedes and a 2-0 upset of the Americans.

Ahead of the Cup of Nations tournament in Australia, Vilda pointed to the results and took umbrage when a reporter asked why his "best team" had been left behind.

Embed from Getty Images

"So I am asking for respect for my team," he told a media conference through a translator in Sydney.

"We are preparing for the World Cup and your question seems to be a bit disrespectful towards the team."

Pressed on whether he had the best team available to him, Vilda said: "It is the best team that I want to train. And nothing else."

The exiled players complained to the Spanish FA that they were unhappy with the management of injuries, the atmosphere in the locker room and Vilda's handling of team selection and training, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

The group said on social media in September that they had not demanded Vilda's dismissal but expressed what they believed could help improve performance.

World number seven Spain kick off the four-team Cup of Nations against Jamaica in Gosford on Thursday, with World Cup co-hosts Australia to meet the Czech Republic in the second match of a double-header.

Spain will meet Costa Rica, Zambia, and Japan in Group C at the July 20-Aug. 20 World Cup.

The 15 players left out of the national team

  • Patri Guijarro (Barcelona)
  • Mapi León (Barcelona)
  • Aitana Bonmatí (Barcelona)
  • Mariona Caldentey (Barcelona)
  • Sandra Paños (Barcelona)
  • Clàudia Pina (Barcelona)
  • Lucía García (Manchester United)
  • Ona Batlle (Manchester United)
  • Laia Aleixandri (Manchester City)
  • Leila Ouahabi (Manchester City)
  • Amaiur Sarriegi (Real Sociedad)
  • Nerea Eizagirre (Real Sociedad)
  • Lola Gallardo (Atlético Madrid)
  • Ainhoa Vicente (Atlético Madrid)
  • Andrea Pereira (Club América)

(Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas is recovering from an ACL injury but has voiced her support for her 15 teammates.)

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Sonali Paul)

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