Nobody could accuse Deportivo Saprissa manager Hernan Medford of lacking in ambition. The former Costa Rican international, who enjoys hero-like status in his homeland, is hoping to emulate the success of his playing days in his current role as coach. As his side prepare to take part in the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup in Japan, Medford says nothing short of victory will satisfy him.
In an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, Medford spoke about team preparation and morale, the difficult challenge ahead in Japan and his belief that Saprissa could achieve a historic first for the CONCACAF region.
Fifa.com: How are preparations going?
Hernan Medford: We’re in good shape and very much up for it. We achieved what we set out to do at international level and results are going well.
What objectives have Saprissa set themselves for the tournament?
We’re not the sort of team that settles for second best. We want to finish first and will be going there with that attitude. Yes, we’re going to take part in a tournament with teams of very considerable standing, but the gap between sides at this level has closed a lot.
How would you assess your rivals?
There are big-name sides like Liverpool, but every team qualified for a reason. The regional tournaments are very tough to win, and so all six sides are in Japan because they deserve to be.
What style of play can we expect to see from Saprissa in the Far East?
We’re a side that takes the initiative in trying to win games. If we’re to go far in Japan then that has to be our philosophy. It will be not be easy, but we have it in us to go the distance as we have players that have graced major competitions like the World Cup, the Champions League and Olympic Tournaments.
Which Saprissa players should we look out for in Japan?
I would never single out individuals. I talk about the team as a whole. My motto is “All for one and one for all”.
How have the team being preparing for the tournament?
To date, our preparation has been in the national championship, where we’ve been too busy to even think about playing other games. Nonetheless, we’ll arrive in very good shape at the tournament as we’re heading out 12 days beforehand. We’ve also set up two warm-up games in Korea, which should help us a lot in adapting to the new conditions.
The players will also have to adapt to a new culture…
Those are things that you have to get used to very quickly. My players have already participated in major tournaments and some played in the World Cup in Korea/Japan.