December 6, 2013
WHAT, JURGEN WORRY?
After a tough draw, USA coach Klinsmann says to bring it on
What, Jurgen worry?
|Jurgen Klinsmann: "There are no excuses. We have to be prepared and we’re going to deal with it.”
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Not at all. Not at all.
Even after getting one tough group -- a Group of Death, more or less, with his native Germany, Portugal and Ghana, U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann says to bring it on.
“I’m not worried at all," he said after Friday's draw in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil. "I’ll just take it the way it is and we’re going to prepare the best way and we’re going to be well prepared for the World Cup. We’ll build up confidence and believe that we can get good results to get into the next round. We’ll do our homework on Portugal, Germany and Ghana. We’re excited about this, big time. That’s where you want to be in a World Cup. It’s a difficult draw but we’ll find a way to go through it.”
Group B will start for the USA against Ghana in Natal, Brazil on June 16 at 6 p.m. ET. Ghana has seen the U.S. out of the last two tournaments, defeating its foes in the final group stage match in Germany 2006, and prevailing in extratime in South Africa in 2010.
The Americans will take on Portugal in Manaus at 3 p.m. ET on June 22. They stunned the Portuguese in their opening match of the 2002 competition, 3-2, after grabbing a 3-0 advantage, a result that started the USA to a quarterfinal finish, where it lost to Germany. This Portuguese team boasts Cristiano Ronaldo, regarded by many observers to be the best soccer player in the world.
And USA will finish off the opening round against the Germans in Recife at noon ET on June 26. The Germans are ranked second in FIFA's latest rankings.
Klinsmann said the USA cannot consider itself underdogs, especially if he wants to be one of the top soccer countries in the world.
“No, we’re not underdogs," he said. "All the nations in a World Cup, these 32 nations are all big names. They all deserve to be there and there are no surprises. All the big nations are in there, and if you want to get into the top 10 or top 12 in the world, you have to start beating them.”
Klinsmann said he wasn't surprised the USA wound up with Germany, for whom he won a World Cup title in 1990 and coached to the semifinals in 2006.
“I kind of had in my stomach that we were going to get Germany," he said. "You know I wanted Brazil in the opening game, but obviously it’s one of the most difficult groups in the whole draw. Having Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo and then Ghana who has a history with the United States, it couldn’t get any more difficult or any bigger but that’s what the World Cup is about, it’s a real challenge and we’ll take it, we’ll take it on and hopefully we’re going to surprise some people there.”
But just because he knows German soccer inside and out, doesn't necessary mean that gives the Americans an advantage.
“Once the game starts, even if you know your opponent inside-out, I don’t think it gives you much of an advantage because the players will be tense, they will be emotional because they want to do well," he said. "They are going to play their game no matter what. Even if you know everything about your opponent. You know everything about Cristiano Ronaldo but it doesn’t mean that you stop him, but we are going to try and stop him. It’s going to be huge for us.”
It is a face special game for Klinsmann to take on the country of his birth.
“With the background I have, it’s a special occasion and a special moment," he said. "But at the end of the day, it’s a football game and you try to give your best, and we’ll do that. Then we’ll see what happens. I’m confident we can challenge all of those three teams and get our points to go into the next round.”
Klinsmann said that he and German head coach Joachim Low already have joked about the game.
“We’re pretty relaxed about it," he said. "Obviously, once the World Cup starts everyone is going to be busy and we are going to prepare our team very well. We will have the confidence to take whoever on and then we take it one game at a time.”
Let's face it, the last place most of the coaches wanted to play was in Manaus in the Amazon.
“It is what it is," Klinsmann said. "We don’t complain. We take it on. We do the traveling and we adjust to the climate. This is what a World Cup is about, it’s about these challenges. It’s exciting in certain ways, and a big challenge. That’s what we want.”
The Americans will go from one end of Brazil to another in the opening round, traveling some 9,000 miles for three games.
“We discussed it before the draw that there would be some problems on the traveling side, and we hit the worst of the worst," Klinsmann said.
"Going to Manaus, every nation and every coach I talked to, they said everything but Manaus. But we’ll prepare for it and we’ll be ready for it. Both teams on the field will have to prepare for it we’ll be ready for it. There are no excuses. We have to be prepared and we’re going to deal with it.”