Fernando Hierro has done an impressive job in keeping Spain's squad united at the World Cup following the sacking of Julen Lopetegui, according to Iran coach Carlos Queiroz.
Spain got their campaign started on Friday with a 3-3 draw with European champions Portugal, who needed a last-gasp Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick to salvage a point at the end of an absorbing contest.
That game came just days after Lopetegui had been fired as a result of accepting a future role with Real Madrid, leaving the national team’s preparations for the tournament in crisis.
Yet their performance against Portugal demonstrated how they remain a formidable force and Queiroz – whose Iran side face Spain on Wednesday – thinks the former Real Madrid defender deserves praise.
"I think everybody who has been playing football a long time knows football always gives surprises," Queiroz said in his pre-match news conference at the Kazan Arena.
"There's always something new and we know things change constantly. It was quite a peculiar situation, but it's over.
Carlos Queiroz full of admiration for Fernando Hierro. Says he "fought" to sign him as a player and is now impressed he has managed to "unite" a Spain team that was ready to implode. #IRN #ESP #WorldCup @OmnisportNews pic.twitter.com/2REnfG1U3A— Ryan Benson (@RyanRyanBenson) June 19, 2018
"It's sort of ironic because I fought so much and I really tried to have him as a player and I really fought so hard.
"Now he will be my opponent. I admire him very much, I really admire him. These sorts of decision are always hard, I know him well, he is a very skilled person and he is the right person to unite them, a team which could've been divided.
"I think picking him as a coach is something which shows how valuable he is as a man and coach. We saw against Portugal the team played like a united team, as if nothing happened."
Iran have suffered a blow, however, as Queiroz confirmed defender Rouzbeh Cheshmi will miss the rest of the tournament with a muscle injury.
"Unfortunately, it's one of those bad news," he said. "Rouzbeh is out. It was a small accident in a training session. He is injured."
Nevertheless, midfielder Masoud Shojaei suggested the injury would spur Iran on to play better in honour of their "brother".
"He's a key player, as he showed previously. He played well, he showed how good [he is] despite the criticism that existed," Masoud said.
"Of course we miss him but we have many good players to fill in. One thing we need to remember is that we are a team and that comes from our culture.
"We are not just a team, we're a nation, a family, and I believe we have already shown in difficult situations that we are usually united and able to achieve the best result.
"I believe this helps us. Maybe it's a bad situation for him, he helped us on the pitch, but he helps us to become stronger. We know our dear brother is not with us and we shall show what he means to us by playing better."
|United can challenge City for Premier League title, says Rooney|
|MLB All-Star 2018: Seven things you missed at Midsummer Classic|
|American League win home run-filled MLB All-Star game|
|Dragons lure Sims from Broncos|
|Cassano: Ronaldo like Nadal, Messi like Federer|
|Lakers´ Ball undergoes successful knee surgery|
|´We kill them, Messi or no Messi´ - Pogba´s pre-Argentina World Cup speech revealed|
|Cardinals suspend GM Keim for five weeks after DUI|
|Dalic: I can coach Brazil or Barca but Croatia my favourite|
|Warriors coach Kerr extends contract|
|I´m ready to bust him up - Miller calls out Joshua after New York confrontation|
|CAF Champions League Review: ES Tunis and TP Mazembe set the pace|
|Mixed day for seeds in Newport as Muller progresses|
|Rams sign Cooks to five-year extension|
|Cowboys’ Randy Gregory reinstated by NFL|
|Verdasco survives Swedish Open scare as Paire is picked off in Umag|
|US Open announces record prize fund for 2018|
|Stosur wins battle of former grand slam champions in Gstaad|
|Emery is Arsenal´s best signing, says Pires|
|Brewster commits to Liverpool with long-term deal|
|Panama boss Gomez steps down after World Cup|
|No Chelsea agreement for Golovin, claims CSKA president|
|Root looks right at home as England ease to series victory|
|Brighton sign Mali midfielder Bissouma from Lille|
|Kaka backs Brazil boss Tite after ´excellent´ World Cup|
|Alaphilippe the toast in France as Van Avermaet increases Tour lead|
|Shkupi 0 Rangers 0: Gerrard´s men advance despite dour draw|
|Khazri ends Sunderland nightmare as Saint Etienne swoop|
|The Open 2018 diary: Rose lets Rio go as Rahm goes ´Lefty´|
|Lampard raids Chelsea and Liverpool in Derby double swoop|
|Balotelli returns to Nice training after Marseille talks stall|
|Owens wants to play in the CFL, says agent|
|I don´t like thinking too much - Johnson|
|Toulon president fined as French club receive suspended points penalty|
|Top of the flops - Mickelson plays exquisite trick shot over man´s head!|
|Kerber targeted Wimbledon after 2017 disappointment|
|England´s World Cup heroes given dedicated parking spots|
|Insigne prefers Messi to new Juve star Ronaldo|
|Koepka enjoys playing with a chip on the shoulder|
|Ryan Hall to leave Leeds Rhinos amid reports of NRL move|
|Hamann slams Lahm for Low criticism|
|Hart named in Manchester City squad for United States tour|
|F1 Raceweek: Leader Vettel heads home|
|Unfair to pin Brazil blame on Neymar, says Kaka|
|Thomas and friends ´want to beat each other´s brains in´|
|Woods´ love for links fathered at Carnoustie|
|Confident Rose targets tournament wins and number one spot|
|Hallgrimsson leaves Iceland post|
|Australian Open to consult players over fifth-set tie-breaks|
|Daley´s coming home - Ajax rewrite Three Lions anthem|
|Woods: Open my best chance at winning another major|
|Blind completes Ajax return from Manchester United|
|I belong at the top, says Anderson|
|Leaving Madrid was my biggest regret, Panucci warns Ronaldo|
|Folau in no rush to settle future amid Reds rumours|
|Degenkolb: I need two or three secretaries to manage congratulations!|
|Harrington v Garcia: When winning makes life tougher|
|Mafi and Timani fined by Rebels|
|Watson: Johnson and Woods can prosper at Carnoustie|
|Alderweireld hints at Tottenham departure|
|Maradona takes over as Dynamo Brest chairman|
|The Open 2018: Wounded animal Spieth is a danger to Carnoustie rivals|
|Wests´ Reynolds to miss the rest of 2018|
|Pussy Riot members jailed for World Cup final protest|
|Ronaldo capture boosts Serie A - Mourinho|
|Goals at three World Cups and 50 for the Socceroos – Cahill´s international career in numbers|
|Giroud: It´s coming home|
|Harper wins Home Run Derby in Nationals Park|
|Brighton sign Button from Fulham|
|Bolt set to trial with A-League club Central Coast Mariners|