WORLD CUP DRAW: Quotable Quotes

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The World Cup’s leading managers, including Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, all had their own angle on what the draw for the 2014 finals had brought them in terms of welcome or less welcome early Christmas present:

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil): “I am satisfied with the draw. But we shall be paying close attention to the opening phase. That should give us an incentive. I am not concerned with the second phase. Mexico is a classic going way back, I am happy with the match sequence.

“Overall it is good. England, Italy, Uruguay – that is the toughest group and we are not in this one! We open against a European team, which was my preference. We have the clasico, which will be very tough, in the middle. Then Cameroon. I think it’s good for us.”

Niko Kovac (Croatia): “It is very special: Brazil in the first game with the whole world watching. It will be something. We will try to make it difficult for them but it won’t be easy. I think Brazil are the obvious favourites but second place is wide open. Mexico may have struggled recently but they are always strong at the World Cup. It is really tight for second place.”

2014 FIFA World Cup trophy

2014 FIFA World Cup trophy

Miguel Herrera (Mexico): “We have three hard opponents. We have to work hard to compete properly. But we have to be realistic. It is a hard group and the potential Group B opponents in the knockout stages are even harder. But we want to achieve certain aims.”

Group B: Spain, Holland, Chile,  Australia

Vicente Del Bosque (Spain): “Chile have expert players and are very physical. We know they will be a very difficult team to face. Australia are a little less well known, but they have qualified from the Asian groups and I imagine they also have good players. “Holland have changed a little bit, especially in the middle of the park, but they still have (Arjen) Robben, (Robin) Van Persie, (Rafael) Van der Vaart and (Wesley) Sneijder. I think it is good for our mentality that we have to prepare from the first day. Holland will demand that we start at our highest level.”

Louis Van Gaal (Holland): “You can’t really do anything about it, but it’s fair to say that it’s not a good draw for us. We will play the reigning world champions, Australia, whom we have never beaten, and Chile. I saw them play against Colombia when they went 3-0 up and showed that they are a good team. If we look at our opponents, it sure is a difficult draw”.

Jorge Sampaoli (Chile): “This is a really tough group, so we will try to be competitive enough to qualify. Vicente Del Bosque didn’t want Chile but we also didn’t want Spain”

Ange Postecoglou (Australia): “This is the World Cup. It’s the best football nations on the planet and we will embrace the challenge that lies ahead of us. We will see some great football played in our group and it’s up to us to play a part in that. We wanted to play some big nations. We want to test ourselves against the best nations on the biggest stage”

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

Jose Pekerman (Colombia): “We are playing a European, an African and an Asian team and I believe it will be a very even and attractive group for the styles. I trust the potential we have, but the people of Colombia have to understand that a World Cup is something different. Hopefully we will do well. The guys did a great job in qualifying but now that’s history.”

Fernando Santos (Greece): “It might not look like it but this is one of the most dificult groups of the World Cup, because there are four teams with good chances to qualify. Colombia are very strong in the attack, Ivory Coast are an experienced side with great players like Drogba and Gervinho and Japan want to surprise on the world stage. But Greece have every chance of reaching the round of 16.”

Sabri Lamouchi (Ivory Coast): “One thing I do know: this is not as tough a group as the ones we faced in the first round either in 2006 or in 2010.”

Alberto Zaccheroni (Japan): “For me this group is fine although it could have been better because I think we are playing the best of the Africans but it could have been worse. We must be good about planning for the different climatic conditions, going to play in a city which is very hot, but we have the experience of the Confederation Cup.”

Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Diego Forlan (Uruguay forward – since coach Oscar Washington Tabarez was undergoing surgry back home): “In comparison with what other teams have got, it’s the hardest group of this World Cup. But you have to play the matches and at the last World Cup we were in a very complicated group but came through well.”

Jorge Luis Pinto (Costa Rica): “We will not be afraid of any opponents just because they have a greater weight of football history. Our fans should know that they do not have to be afraid for us: We have peace of mind that we will prepare in the best possible way to do a great job.”

Roy Hodgson (England): “It’s a tough group no doubt about that. We’ve almost got two top seeds in our group, with Italy and Uruguay. Our great advantage is being based in Rio – meaning that we’ve only got that one really long trip. After Manaus we’re back in our neck of the woods, so to speak”

Cesare Prandelli (Italy): “We have drawn three champions of the world but we are not worried.

When the media tell you it’s an easy group, that’s when you have to worry. I’m worried only about the conditions because no matter who you are up against, you’re going to have to deal with the weather.”

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

Ottmar Hitzfeld (Switzerland): “A very tense and level group with different mentalities. European teams facing teams from South America and from Central America. It’s a very interesting group to play in. France is a very effective opponent to play, but no need to complain. We must use the time that we have to prepare for the conditions that we are going to face.”

Reinaldo Rueda (Ecuador): “I was the coach of Honduras in 2010 and now destiny makes me face them with Ecuador. That’s football, and that’s life! They have a great group, and already experienced the World Cup in South Africa. They will be a difficult opponent. Switzerland and France? Despite the fact of being Europeans, both of them have different styles. It’ll be a very challenging group.”

Didier Deschamps (France): “It could have been more complicated, let’s be honest. We’ll have our Swiss neighbours, one south American team and Honduras playing a similar style. We were worried about playing in the north because of the heat. Finally not, it’s better for the recuperation”.

Luis Suarez (Honduras): “I leave with good taste in my mouth, with one exception: I didn’t want to face Ecuador. Not only for Reinaldo [Rueda, coach of Ecuador] but also for the country: they mean a lot to me. Ecuador helped me to develop my career, I owe them many things. But anyway, draws are like that. We’ll try to face this situation as real professionals. We want to reach the Round of 16.”

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Alejandro Sabella (Argentina): “We didn’t get the group of death and we got a geographical area playing in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre, that is in general terms positive. Everyone knows I’m a great admirer of Brazilian football, on top of that they’re the home side, which is a double edged sword. Brazil [possible later opponents] have a great coach and great players who will make being at home an advantage.”

Stephen Keshi (Nigeria): “My joy is that my boys have been telling me they want to show the world what they are capable of doing at the finals next year summer. We respect all the teams but do not fear any.”

Safet Susic (Bosnia-Herzegovina): “Argentina are the group favorites and it will be a very special occasion for us to play our opening match against them at the Maracana Stadium. We should have an even chance alongside Nigeria to clinch the runners-up spot although no one should underestimate Iran either. We have a fair chance of reaching the knockout rounds.”

Carlos Queiroz (Iran): “It is an honour, it’s just for us to enjoy now. We will play against the best teams in the world and it’s a great opportunity for us to progress and be a better team.”

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States

Joachim Low (Germany): “So, we will be meeting old friends. It’s already something special to have the USA in our group. Jurgen and I have had a very good and close relationship for a long time. We have always exchanged ideas on a regular basis, but that will certainly change before the World Cup.”

Paulo Bento (Portugal): “It’s a tight group with a favourite – Germany – because of their history and potential. Both USA and Ghana have good teams, well organised and good players in some of the best European teams. But our ambition does not depend on the group. We want to be in the round of 16 and that’s what will fight for.”

Kwesi Appiah (Ghana): “It’s nice to meet Germany and also United States whom we beat in Round of 16 in 2010. We are a better team than in 2010 and I’m sure there will be a lot of surprises in this group.”

Jurgen Klinsmann (United States): “”I had a feeling in my stomach we’d get Germany. It’s one of those crazy stories that football writes. It’s one of the most difficult groups in the whole draw. Including having Portugal and Ronaldo, Ghana’s history with USA and of course Germany it couldn’t get more difficult or any bigger”

Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea

Marc Wilmots (Belgium): “It’s an interesting group. There are no world class players within our opponents. I’m not saying it will be an easy group, but our first objective to reach the second round is still the same.”

Valid Halilhodzic (Algeria): “We could have had a much more difficult group but there’s no easy group or no group of death. Belgium is a big football nation with lot of quality. In my opinion, it could well be one of the surprise of the tournament. I also know Russia well, who have a great coach. KoreaRepublic is also very skilful, lots of passing, movement”

Fabio Capello (Russia): “Our group is not as hard as others, like B and G for example. Each team is very different in our group and another really important thing is the location as we play in the centre of Brazil. I’m happy. People might say Belgium are the favourites thanks to their good qualifiers but we still hope to top the group.”

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