Venezuela arrived at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with high hopes, having claimed an unprecedented second-place finish in the South American U-17 Championship. But their first two fixtures at UAE 2013 failed to produce the anticipated results and La Vinotinto are now looking for divine assistance to progress to the last 16.

One of their key figures, David Zalzman, who played with the youth sides at Spanish giants Barcelona and who has performed well in this competition, admitted the situation was not what he and the team had expected. That said, he continues to believe in Venezuela’s chances and explained why he remains confident: “We always pray in the dressing room before going out on to the pitch; we will achieve the miracle.”

We give thanks to God for everything he has given us, we ask him to help us in our matches.

Venezuela's is a pious changing room

The creative midfielder born in Maracay, Aragua State, knows exactly what's at stake. “We’re experiencing something which is very important for us, because we’re representing our country for the first time in a U-17 World Cup. We’re facing up to it with a lot of strength and are here to do things well,” he insisted.

On his team’s difficult path so far at UAE 2013, Zalman said: “We were in control in the first game against Tunisia almost from the beginning but just couldn’t convert our chances. Then it got away from us in the second half.” The youngster, who currently plays for Primera Division side Deportivo Anzoategui in his homeland, had two good opportunities and was unlucky to see those rebound off the woodwork. “They were moves that maybe could’ve changed the course of the match, but they didn’t go in. That’s in the past now and there’s no point in dwelling on it.”

Confidence for the future
Venezuela are determined to make a significant mark on the competition before they bow out, as Zalzman explained. “We’re very focused because we know that if we win the last game against Russia, we’ll have a chance of progressing to the Round of 16 as one of best third-placed teams. So that’s our aim – to go out and win and advance to the next round,” he said with complete confidence.

And along with the midfielder’s World Cup dreams sits the memory of his time at Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, where he spent three years from the age of 12 to 15. Zalzman, an admirer of Xavi, on whom he styles his movements, reveals it was “a very special experience, something new for me. I took full advantage; I learned so much and everything I was lucky enough to learn I always try to share with my team-mates.”

For the moment, however, he is firmly focused on La Vinotinto and his dreams of making history in Venezuelan football. “We’re certain we can go far and have the ability to achieve great things. In our final group game, we just need to convert the chances we’ve been creating.”

To finish up, Zalzman revealed an important reason behind his confidence in the future: “We always pray before we go out on the pitch, and we also listen to music in the dressing room. We give thanks to God for everything he has given us, we ask him to help us in our matches, because we always dedicate our games to him. With the help of God we’ll achieve the miracle and give people something to really talk about.”