Coaching quartet voice Final Draw hopes
The FIFA World Cup™ Final Draw has thrown up more than its fair share of memorable matches, unforgettable groups and jaw-dropping results over the years. In the build-up to the event, expectant fans from across the world check to see who their teams might face and make a note of which sides to avoid.
But what about the coaches? How do they approach the Final Draw? To find out the answers to those questions, we spoke to the bosses of four of the national teams in Friday’s Final Draw at the State Kremlin Palace and asked them what they are hoping for from the event.
The indomitable one: Oscar Ramirez
Costa Rica were drawn with three former world champions in Italy, Uruguay and England at Brazil 2014. Mission impossible? Anything but for the fearless Ticos, who gave as good as they got against their illustrious rivals, so much so that they ended up topping the section with two wins and a draw. With that performance still fresh in the memory, coach Oscar Ramirez is undaunted at the prospect of facing high-quality opposition in Russia.
“History tells us that whenever we’ve faced European teams, we’ve always kicked on and had our best World Cups ever,” he said. “After what happened in 2014, we’re not really scared of anyone. The best thing for us would be to get a European seed and another team from the same continent.”
The tactical one: Juan Carlos Osorio
If there is one coach who likes to analyse what the opposition does on the pitch and then explain it to his players and the fans, then it is Mexico supremo Juan Carlos Osorio. Little wonder, then, that his desired Final Draw outcome has more to do with the styles of play of El Tri’s potential rivals than their actual names.
“It’s out of our hands and we have to make plans for whoever we get drawn against,” he commented. “One thing I can say, though, is that there are certain styles that we adapt to better. We’d like to come up against sides that play a possession-based game and build from the back. I’m sure we’ll get at least one team like that. Then there are the more physical and direct teams. We’ll have to adapt to them too.”
The pragmatic one: Roberto Martinez
More attentive than most to the little details, the Belgium coach brings an alternative view to the debate, attaching the most importance not to the teams his side will face but to another factor he sees as crucial.
“Our priority was to be one of the seeds,” he explained. “Having achieved that goal, we’ve turned our attention to logistics. I want us to have short journeys to the host cities, because if we have to fly for more than three hours then it’s going to affect our preparations. That concerns me more than the teams we might meet.”
The experienced one: Hector Cuper
Russia 2018 will be the Egypt coach’s first World Cup. Cuper is no stranger to the big occasion, however, having coached in the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League and in Spain, England and Italy, among other leagues. As you might expect, the Argentinian has his own unique perspective on what might happen on Friday.
“I’m going to be polite and say that I’ll be happy with whatever we get,” he said. “I say that because in the past I’ve always thought, ‘I want this team. I want that team.’ And what happened was that we ended up beating the seemingly strong teams and losing to the weakest. Anything can happen, to be honest. Nobody wins a game before it’s been played.”
Contemplating the prospect of facing Argentina, the country of his birth, Cuper said: “A big challenge, for sure. But there’s no doubt in my mind that if we do play them, we’ll win. And I guess they’ll tell you the same thing. That said, it’d be better if we avoided them, to be perfectly honest.”