The build-up to the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 began in earnest on Saturday, when the draw for the group phase took place in Sao Paulo. Hosts Brazil line up in Group A with Japan, Mexico and Italy, while Spain, Uruguay and Tahiti will be joined in Group B by the champions of Africa, whose identity will be revealed after next February’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations final.
Speaking to the press afterwards, the coaches of the seven national teams to have already secured their places looked ahead to what they can expect when next June’s Festival of Champions gets under way:
Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil):
We Brazilians think we’ve got a competitive, quality team, and this tournament is more than a rehearsal for us. It’s a chance for us to get a clear picture of who we’re going to take to the World Cup. It’s important for us to be in a group with Italy, Japan and Mexico, because they’re all games that will give us a better view of things than we would have if we weren’t up against such big teams. Brazilian players focus better when the going gets tough. The draw was great. It’s a hard group and that’s just what we wanted.
There are no favourites for the title to my mind. Brazil aren’t and neither are Spain. There’s no one who is. The two teams that will go out of our group are just as good as the two that will go through, and there’s nothing to choose between at least two of the sides in Group B. As long as we play our game and show some quality, we won’t get down about losing a match at the FIFA Confederations Cup and missing out on the title for some reason.
Alberto Zaccheroni (Japan):
It’ll be the first time I’ve faced Italy and I just can’t picture it at the moment, though I’m pretty sure it won’t be your average game. The important thing is to go and get a result. That’s our number one objective. The three other sides are all above us in the world rankings, but the team has been improving and our players have picked up more experience abroad. I have to say, I’m very curious to see how we’re going to do in this group.
Jose Manuel de la Torre (Mexico):
I’m very pleased we’re in this competition. Our rivals have nine world titles between them and it’s a tremendous opportunity for us to continue making progress. We won’t be coming along just to take part, but to get through to the next round and go for the title, just like we did in Mexico in 1999.
What happened against Brazil is history. We pulled it off then because we prepared well. They’ve got a new coach now and we’ll have to look at them closely and try to find a way to beat them. That’s for June though. That’s the future. What we do know is that we can beat anyone, anywhere, and that’s what we have to get through to our players.
Cesare Prandelli (Italy):
It’s very exciting to be facing Japan and coming up against a great professional and a friend like Alberto (Zaccheroni). As for the order of the games, that’s not a problem. What matters to us is getting the players to maintain their focus and be in the right frame of mind to take on all these strong teams.
Vicente Del Bosque (Spain):
There’s no denying that there’s more responsibility on us because of the results we’ve had in the last few years. We can’t forget, though, that Uruguay weren’t that far behind us in finishing fourth at South Africa, or that the African champions are always tough opponents, no matter who they are.
Everyone’s saying that Brazil have gone off the boil but you have to remember that they’re the reigning Confederations Cup champions, that less than four years ago they were the ones picking up this trophy.
Eddy Etaeta (Tahiti):
It’s amazing for us to think that here we are, a little country of 250,000 people, playing against the best teams in the world. We’ll be up against Uruguay and Spain, the world champions, and we’ll be out to represent our region the best we possibly can. It’s going to be so exciting to face Spain at the Maracana, and it will be an incredible feeling if we can score. As for our objectives, we need to be realistic.
Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay):
I think Spain are the toughest opponents of the lot. You only have to look at their results in the last few years and the way they’ve been playing. We’re proud and motivated to be playing that game, though. You’d have to say that the decisive match for us will be our second one against the African side, which should go a long way to deciding if we’ll make it to the second round. Then we’ve got Tahiti, who are the least experienced team and a side we know nothing about.