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Spain coach Luis Enrique steps down over their shock World Cup exit

Football
 Spain's head coach Luis Enrique, left, embraces Sergio Busquets after the penalty shootout at the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Morocco and Spain, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The Spanish soccer federation said Thursday that Luis Enrique will not continue as coach of the men’s national team following its elimination in the round of 16 of the World Cup.

The announcement comes two days after Spain lost to Morocco 3-0 in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw in regular and extra time.

The federation thanked Luis Enrique but said it was time to “start a new project” to keep the growth achieved by the coach in recent years.

Spain got off to a good start in Qatar, routing Costa Rica 7-0, but La Roja couldn’t win again in its last three matches. It drew Germany 1-1 and lost 2-1 to Japan before being held by Morocco.

Luis Enrique took over the national team in 2018 to start revamping the squad after its elimination in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Russia. He temporarily left because of the illness and eventual death of his young daughter, but returned in 2019.

He helped Spain reach the last four of the Nations League twice, including this season and last year, when it lost the final to France.

He also led Spain to the semifinals of the European Championship in 2020, losing to Italy in a penalty shootout.

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