Monday, May 23, 2022

Football: Sports icons express views on World Cup draw held in Qatar

Football: Sports icons express views on World Cup draw held in Qatar
April 2, 2022 Web Desk

DOHA (Reuters) - Following is reaction to the 2022 World Cup draw, held at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Qatar on Friday.

Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands:

Louis Van Gaal, Netherlands Coach:

"Those 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.

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

"The duel with Australia (a 3-2 Dutch win) ended up being our most difficult match. Compared to then, this draw is more favourable, even if this time we have to play against the champions of Africa."

Group B: England, Iran, United States, Wales/Scotland/Ukraine

Gareth Southgate, England Coach:

"(The US and Iran)... are teams we've not played for a while and the third is an unknown but throws up a possible British derby," Southgate told the BBC.

"In this situation all of our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, so when that tie is played out is irrelevant really.

"For us we're (playing) on day one so it's quite clear now what our programme looks like with the end of the Premier League season and getting out here as quickly as possible."

Harry Kane, England Captain

"Always exciting to see who we get in the group! Playing on the opening day will be incredible as well," Kane wrote on Twitter.

Gregg berhalter, US Coach

"We're familiar with a lot of their players so I think it's a great game ... I think England have a big history in the World Cup and it's great for us to be able to play them," he told FS1. "There's always a lot of attention around that game.

"I remember when we played them in 2010 (1-1 draw), it was a great moment, great performance by the team and now we get a chance to do it again against a strong team."

"If Ukraine makes it there, it's a wonderful accomplishment," Berhalter told a news conference. "If the people of Ukraine can get some hope by their team playing in the World Cup, it's amazing.

"It will be more of a celebration in my eyes. We're all pulling for Ukraine, we're all behind them, we're all supporting them and hope the situation resolves as soon as possible."

Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland:

Lionel Scaloni, Argentina Coach:

"We're good and I believe in us. We can't complain (about the rivals) but neither can we be content," Scaloni told Argentine TV.

"Mexico is a rival we know, Poland got through beating Sweden (in the playoffs) and Saudi Arabia ran a very good qualifying campaign. We respect all our rivals, it's a difficult group.

"I say to people, be calm and enjoy the World Cup. I hope it ends with Argentina in the final."

Yon De Luisa, Mexican Fa President:

"There is no easy group. In a World Cup all the games are difficult and we must prepare very well to have a good World Cup," De Luisa said in a statement on Mexico's Twitter account.

"We are going to enjoy this with all the passion of our players and that of all the great fans we have."

Cezary Kulesza, Polish Fa President:

"This is a very interesting group. We are humble, but we are not afraid of anyone. We will fly to Qatar without complexes and ready to fight. Be with us," Kulesza wrote on Twitter.

Group D: France, Australia/Uae/Peru, Denmark, Tunisia

Didier Deschamps, France Coach

"It could have been easier or harder," he said. "We know Denmark well and we will get to know each other even better with our matches in the Nations League in June and September."

Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark Coach:

"It's not great. 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," Hjulmand told TV2.

"And then I also think that the last team - possibly Peru - is an incredibly strong team that I think will get through the qualification."

Wahbi Khazri, Tunisia Striker:

"I'm super happy. The French are favourites, we are far from it, but, having grown up here, living here, playing in the French Championship (for St Etienne), it is the dream of many players," he told RMC Sport.

"To face them in the World Cup, it is still a dream which will come true for me. Denmark, Peru or Australia (or the United Arab Emirates) are teams within our reach. It's in quite a while, a lot can happen. But I have confidence in my country.

"We are capable of doing great things. We are not favourites but I hope we will be able to get out of this pool with France in the lead."

Graham Arnold, Australia Coach:

Group D "brings back memories from 2018 and playing France, the winners in 2018, and having Denmark in the same group – the only difference is Tunisia.

"Obviously, it is one step at a time for us, and it is all about the playoffs first and foremost, but it is an exciting group.

"They (Australia players) will be back at their clubs, and they will be seeing the draw today. Some of the boys that were there in 2018 would like revenge, and I am pretty sure that they will all be excited."

Group E: Spain, Costa Rica/New Zealand, Germany, Japan

Luis Enrique, Spain Coach:

"It's a strong group if you take into consideration Germany but we are on top of the group because of our merits, the work we have being doing in recent years," he said.

"As for the rest of the group, I don't know much, I won't lie to you - 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 or the Euros. Our style is very clear... and it will be very difficult to play against us. This is the message I have to give. We respect our opponents, anyone can beat us but we can beat anyone too."

Hajime Moriyasu, Japan Coach:

"I feel joy in being able to play countries who have experience of winning the tournament, in Spain and Germany.

"We're aiming to reach the last eight, but we can't get there unless we beat the strongest nations in the world. We'll have a thorough preparation thinking how we can do that."

Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia

Roberto Martinez, Belgium Coach:

"It's a really challenging draw. It's good that we play a little bit later in the tournament so our preparation could be a little bit longer. A really tough draw for different reasons but fantastic teams to look forward to.

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

"Canada played a strong qualifier, so that also promises to be a good match. Croatia we know well, they didn't become runners-up (at the 2018 World Cup) in Russia for nothing."

John Herdman, Canada Coach

"This is the moment we have all dreamt of - to see Canada pulled out of one of those pots. This is going to be another opportunity to show that we are new Canada.

"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."

Vahid Halilhodzic, Morocco Coach:

"It's a very difficult draw with Croatia, Belgium and the best team in North America," he told beIN Sports.

"Anyway, there is no small team. In Brazil (in 2014) with Algeria, we almost achieved a huge feat against Germany (a 2-1 defeat after extra time in the last 16) so I'll try to do the same with Morocco. Everything is possible, you have to believe in it."

Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon:

Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland Midfielder

"It's a good draw, it's a good group, I was surprised that we have the same group like 2018 with Serbia and Brazil. Just Cameroon is the new country in our group.

"I'm really excited, I think it's a tough group, going to be tough for everybody ... I'm really looking forward to these games. I wanted a strong group and... Brazil and Serbia (are) doing well at the moment."

Tite, Brazil Coach:

"It is neither (the group of) death nor life, every group has a degree of difficulty. Portugal have Uruguay, South Korea, Ghana," he said, adding that he joked with Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic about the similarity of the group from 2018.

"Everything is the same (as the group in 2018). All that was missing was Costa Rica.

"Serbia and Switzerland eliminated Portugal and Italy (from automatic qualification as group leaders). Also, the Cameroon team is very strong in Africa."

Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

Fernando Santos, Portugal Coach:

"It's like the glass half full and half empty. If we looked at the previous World Cup, Uruguay would be the favourites. If we look at the ranking, Portugal will be the favourites.

"We must not forget Ghana and South Korea, who have strong players. (South Korea's Portuguese coach) Paulo (Bento) has done a very good job for South Korean football."