February 13, 2009
By Michael Lewis
Mexico, USA, Honduras to make World Cup
Columbus, Ohio -- Even after the United States defeated Mexico in the first CONCACAF final round World Cup qualifier for both teams, Bora Milutinovic likes the Mexicans chances of reaching South Africa next year.
In fact, he gave this predication about an hour after the match at Columbus Crew Stadium on Wednesday night.
"Mexico, USA and Honduras will be the first three," he said during an interview in blustery, windy conditions.
Militunovic, the only one to coach both the U.S. (1991-1995) and Mexico (1997), would not talk about Mexican coach Sven-Goran Erikkson's future. However, he was willing to talk about the game.
When asked what he thought about the game, which was played in windy conditions with gusts up to 25-35 miles per hour, Milutinovic replied, "Which game?
"Sorry, you call this a game?" he added, making a point of the lack of quality of the match.
"USA played very well," Bora said. "They have a very good reputation. I am also happy for them. They played a great game. The USA was better than the Mexican team."
"This is the life. USA was better fit. no question about it. They started with a win. It is important for morale, but you have 27 [more points] to play."
Because the U.S. was playing at home, Milutinovic felt the Americans were under the gun more than their Mexican counterparts.
"It's bigger pressure for the American team," he said. "The pressure is that they need to win. If you have intelligent guys like the American team, everything is easier. They have some very good players. For example, [Landon] Donovan. He's a great player, great leader."
Milutinovic reporter a reporter that he had respect for the USA and that he still lives in Mexico. But he said that the American team "was superior to the Mexican team."
Bora has forged a reputation of enjoying great success in the World Cup. He directed Mexico to a quarterfinal finish in 1986, and became the first coach to direct a CONCACAF side into the second round in a European World Cup when Costa Rica pulled off the achievement in Italy in 1990. He went on to coach the U.S. at USA '94 (second round), Nigeria at France '98 (second round) and China at Korea/Japan '02 (first-round elimination). He did not guide a team at the 2006 competition.
He still hasn't hooked up with a team.
"Always I have chance," he said. "It's not only to work. You need to work when you have a big challenge. You need to have challenge."
Bora then added that "I am not a person you do not want to speak. My English is not very good."