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Spanish Coach Prays for Rain

June 12, 1998

NANTES, France (AP) _ All Spain wants now is rain.

With its final training session Friday completed, the wait began for Saturday’s Group D clash between Spain and Olympic champion Nigeria. Ever since the game was scheduled earlier this year, Spanish coach has bemoaned the kickoff hour because of the heat.

Rain would naturally cool things down.

``June always turns up high temperatures,″ Clemente said at his final pre-game press conference. ``Tomorrow we can only hope it rains. Not that the Nigerians can’t take rain, but their bodies are better suited to intense heat than ours, if it doesn’t.″

Clemente said he was delighted with the excellent training session the side had had and the enthusiastic mood of the players.

On the cup so far, Clemente said Morocco had impressed him most for its speed and precision.

On Spain’s fate this time round, Clemente said he hoped the team gets some of the chances it got in 1994.

``Back then we only lost by a hair’s breadth,″ he said. ``This time, the team is physically stronger and faster.″

Despite only losing once since the 1994 tournament, Spain has not been able to bag a trophy or reach a final in recent years. In 1994, Italy ousted it in the quarters with a late goal although Spain had clearly dominated while in 1996 European championships it went out of the quarters against England on penalties.

(cg-sl)

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