With the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2011 final just a matter of hours away, FIFA.com held exclusive interviews with Fabian Coito and Raul Gutierrez, coaches of Uruguay and Mexico respectively. Here are the pair’s answers to five different questions about Sunday’s showdown at the legendary Estadio Azteca.
FIFA.com: What kind of match are you anticipating?
Fabian Coito (URU): We’ve played Mexico several times in the past six months, and I have a high opinion of them as a team. They work very hard at the back, they always try to play good football and they have good players in every position. Beyond the nerves that come with playing in a final, I’m expecting a good match with a lot of ambition from both sides.
Raul Gutierrez (MEX): It will be a difficult match against a very well-organised team, one that fights for the full ninety minutes and has very quick players up front. I’m not expecting an open game like the one we played against Germany. This one will be much tighter. Uruguay have a very well-defined playing style and I don’t think they’re going to change it now. We’ve played each other four times this year, and all of the matches have been very hard-fought. We’ve both improved and we’ll see a higher quality match.
What are your team’s biggest strengths?
Coito (URU): Experience of playing together as a team, the mental strength to deal with difficult situations and a group of players with very good individual qualities.
Gutierrez (MEX): Our strength is teamwork all over the pitch. We’re very good going forward and have several different options in attack. My players also have their feet on the ground and are mature beyond their years.
What role do you think the fans will play?
Coito (URU): We’ll use them as a source of motivation. Even though we know that many of them will be against us, the idea of playing in a full stadium drives us on. We’ve prepared an activity to simulate more or less what the guys will experience on Sunday. Once they’ve got to know the stadium, I’m sure we’ll talk about it again.
Gutierrez (MEX): This team has connected with the fans really well, and this relationship with the public is something the players like. They feel comfortable with it, so it will be a real plus for them. Regardless of how the match pans out, the fans will be behind us and they’ll never be a source of pressure.
What will be the last words you say to your players before they take to the field at the Estadio Azteca?
Coito (URU): I’ll tell them to enjoy the match, because it features the two best teams in the tournament. I’ll also make sure they’re prepared for the match on a tactical level and ready to play good football. I’ll also remind them of the confidence I have in them. They’re playing in the final against the hosts, so I don’t think they’ll need any extra motivation.
Gutierrez (MEX): Before a match, you always talk about the effort you expect to see. You also talk about commitment, concentration and the points that require special attention. The guys have been able to motivate themselves throughout the tournament, and playing in the final provides a special kind of motivation in itself. Anything else I say will be reserved for the players alone.
What would it mean to you and your country to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup?
Coito (URU): It would simply reaffirm the success of a project that started back when these boys were playing at U-15 level. We know that the ultimate objective is for them to step up to senior level for club and country. We’re about to play in a final that forms part of that journey, and we will try to win it. If we succeed, it will give us the peace of mind that things are going well.
Gutierrez (MEX): For everyone involved with international youth football in Mexico, it would be the culmination of a great deal of significant and serious work. Every club in Mexican football has made a contribution. Beyond the obvious joy it would bring, a win would help strengthen this project.