'I know almost nothing' - Coaches react to World Cup draw

Luis Enrique admitted he has almost no idea of the quality Spain's opponents possess after a host of national team coaches learned of their FIFA World Cup foes for Qatar 2022.

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Spain were drawn against fellow European giants Germany, Japan and the winner of the intercontinental play-off between New Zealand and Costa Rica on Saturday, in what was one of the harder groups unveiled at the draw in Doha.

Though La Roja won't need much reminding of Germany's quality, Enrique revealed he knew little else of his Group E rivals, before suggesting "now is the moment to take the time to study".

"It's a strong group if you take into consideration Germany, but we are the top seeds because of our merits and the work we have been doing in recent years," Enrique said, as quoted by FIFA.com.

"As for the rest of the group, I won't lie to you - I know almost nothing.

"Now is the moment to take the time to study them and continue thinking and trusting in what we are as a team.

"We're not going to change how we play, whether it's the World Cup or a friendly. Our style is very clear, and it will be very difficult to play against us."

Here is what the other coaches in attendance at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center had to say:

Lionel Scaloni (Argentina)

“We're good and I believe in us. We can't complain about the draw but neither can we be content," Scaloni said.

"Mexico are rivals we know, Poland got through beating Sweden (in the UEFA play-offs) and Saudi Arabia played a very good qualifying campaign.

"It's a difficult group. But I say to people: 'be calm and enjoy the World Cup'. I hope it ends with Argentina in the final.”

Kasper Hjulmand (Denmark)

“It's not great," Hjulmand said.

"We would have liked to have avoided France, because I'm pretty sure they are one of the best teams in the world with the incredible talent they have.

"And if Peru get through the play-offs, we’ll face an incredibly strong team there as well. If we are to go through, we’ll need to beat Tunisia.”

Tite (Brazil)

“It is neither (the group of) death nor of life," Tite said.

"Everything is the same (as Brazil’s group at Russia 2018) – all that was missing was Costa Rica!

"We’re talking about Switzerland and Serbia, the teams who stopped Italy and Portugal, and also a Cameroon team that is very strong in the African school. We will have to raise our own game.”

Didier Deschamps (France)

"You can’t really get carried away after a draw," Deschamps said.

"We can mention Denmark and talk about what they did at the EURO, making the semi-finals, and that they're 11th in the FIFA Rankings.

"They are among the best European nations. We are world champions but that was four years ago. I don’t feel any pressure - there’s only joy.

"Of course, (our status as champions) brings more expectations from the crowd, but I’m still calm and serene. There’s no pressure - just adrenaline and excitement for what this World Cup represents."

Graham Arnold (Australia)

John Herdman (Canada)

“This is going to be another opportunity to show that we are new Canada," Herdman said.

"We will go in with no fear, knowing that we've already built a culture on grit and determination. We will be smart, but not scared.”

Louis van Gaal (Netherlands)

“These are opponents we know nothing about. At least I don't, and I assume our analysts don't either, so they have a lot of work to do in the coming period," van Gaal said.

"In 2014, we ended up in the toughest group, with world champions Spain, Chile - which was the number three team in South America at the time - and Australia's fighting team.

"Compared to then, this draw is more favourable – even if this time we have to play against the champions of Africa."

Gregg Berhalter (USA)

“We think it's a good group. We know every opponent in the World Cup is difficult but with England you definitely get an exciting match-up," Berhalter said.

"Gareth (Southgate, England manager) and I go way back. He's a guy I look up to and has always been there for me, given me advice.

"I reached out to him when I got the job and asked if he'd be interested in telling me more about international football. I looked at him as something of a mentor and since then we have stayed in touch.”

Hansi Flick (Germany)

“It’s an exciting, interesting group for all of us," Flick said.

"Japan is a team that is always there and have many players who play in the Bundesliga, so they have high quality.

"Costa Rica was our opening game in 2006 and we have good memories of that. All these teams have developed and all of them have something special. We just have to make sure that we prevail.”

Vahid Halilhodzic (Morocco)

“It's a very difficult draw with Croatia, Belgium and the best team in North America," Halilhodzic said.

"In Brazil (in 2014) with Algeria, I almost achieved a huge feat against Germany (a hard-fought 2-1 loss after extra-time in the Round of 16), so I'll try to do the same with Morocco. Everything is possible – you have to believe in it.”

Murat Yakin (Switzerland)

“These are great challenges, great teams, great nations, great players," Yakin said.

"We know Brazil and Serbia from the 2018 World Cup and we won't make it easy for them. Cameroon also have a very interesting team. I'm happy with the draw, and we're looking forward to facing all three opponents.”

Roberto Martinez (Belgium)

“It's a really challenging draw for different reasons, but there are fantastic teams to look forward to playing against," Martinez said.

"We obviously have a connection with Morocco in the national team and we’ve had players like Marouane (Fellaini) and Nacer (Chadli) who have roots in that country.

"Canada played a strong qualifying campaign, so that also promises to be a good match. And Croatia we know well – they didn't become runners-up (in 2018) for nothing.”

Fernando Santos (Portugal)

“It's like the glass half full and half empty," Santos said. "If we look at previous World Cups, Uruguay would be the favourites.

"If we look at the ranking, Portugal will be the favourites. But we mustn’t forget Ghana and South Korea, who have strong players. Paulo (Bento, Korea Republic’s Portuguese coach) has done a very good job for South Korean football. He's someone I have a lot of respect for.”

Gareth Southgate (England)

“The first two teams (USA and IR Iran) we've not played for quite a while," Southgate said.

"The third (Wales or the winner of Scotland-Ukraine) is a total unknown but throws up a possible British derby. We know what they're all about!

"When you're seeded, you get the advantage of missing out on those big six or seven teams. But there are some really high-ranked teams in Pot 2, the US in particular, and I know Gregg Berhalter quite well – we've met a couple of times and had long chats about things.

"They've got some very good players and we know what they could be capable of as a nation.”

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7 min read
Published 2 April 2022 at 9:35am
Source: SBS