Nelson Rodrigues: "There are no easy games"
FIFA.com canvassed the Brazil U-17 coach for his views on the forthcoming semi-final with Turkey.
Nelson Rodrigues, you've played four matches at the tournament so far, and all of them have been tough in their own way. Aren't you a little surprised at this?
Nelson Rodrigues: It's what I was expecting, because we knew beforehand we'd been drawn in the most difficult group. I was already aware we would face three tough opponents, and there was no way it was going to be a simple task. And Korea DPR showed they're capable of excellent football in the quarter-final. That was an unbelievably difficult game.
What do you expect from the match against Turkey?
It will be another incredibly tough match. And in any case, once you get to this stage of a tournament, there are no easy games any more, especially not in a semi-final. Obviously, as defending champions and the world's leading football nation, we aim to beat everyone we face, but our opponents are always totally fired up against us.
What are your tactics against Turkey? Will you be pushing hard from the start and simply trying to stop the Turks finding their rhythm?
That's a secret. I'm not willing to reveal our tactics. I don't want our opponents knowing these things before kick-off.
You had to contest 120 minutes in the tropical heat of Iquitos, and Turkey have had an extra day to recover. Is that a disadvantage?
My players are superbly fit, so we aren't going to suffer any major problems just because we've had a day less to recover. We'll be on top form, that I can promise you.
What do you regard as your team's main strengths?
It wouldn't be fair to single out individual players or departments of the team. All the players are talented and exceptionally good, so I'm not going to mention any individual, nor am I ready to praise the defence, midfield or forward line above any other.
Kerlon was the best player in South American qualifying, but you lost him to injury before the tournament. For the semi-final, you will be without Renato for the same reason. Isn't that likely to affect your team's performance?
It's a shame those players aren't available, but we won't have problems replacing them. Whoever ends up in the starting formation will be a like-for-like replacement. Obviously, Kerlon and Renato are excellent players, but the rest are equally talented. There's nothing to choose between them.
What's the value of a tournament like this for your young players?
It's irreplaceable in terms of bringing on the young players. They learn to cope with the travel, and spending an extended period with their team-mates. That's a vital foundation for their future development.
Brazil coaches are always under intense pressure to succeed, regardless of the age of the team. How do you cope?
Brazil are always favourites to win tournaments. We're used to the situation. But obviously, I'm the first to acknowledge the weight of pressure to succeed. It means we have to work even harder than normal, and harder than the other teams, as we always have to live up to the role of favourites.
One last question: who'll be world champions?