At first glance, Group H appears to be one of the most open groups, and that was duly reflected in the reactions of the national coaches of Algeria, Belgium, Russia and Korea Republic, following Friday’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Final Draw in Costa do Sauipe.
Marc Wilmots, Belgium
It’s an interesting group. It’s not going to be easy, but our main objective of reaching the Round of 16 hasn’t changed. Our opponents don’t have any world-class players to speak of, but they’re all strong teams that are difficult to beat. I think we’ve all got a chance. Some might say that Belgium and Russia are the favourites to go through. I’m wary of that line of thinking; I don’t believe there are any clear favourites.
Vahid Halilhodzic, Algeria
We could have landed a much tougher group, but there’s no easy group or ‘group of death’. Belgium is a major footballing nation with lots of quality. In my opinion, they could well be the surprise team of the tournament. I know the Russian side quite well – they have a great coach in charge. The Koreans play a very skilful game, based on constant passing and movement, and they have a few good players. We’ll do our best to surprise them. We’re not going to Brazil as tourists, but it will be difficult.
Fabio Capello, Russia
Our group is perhaps not as hard as others, such as B or G, for example. Each team in the group is very different. People might say Belgium are the favourites thanks to their strong qualifying results and their good young team, but we still hope to finish top. I spoke to Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni about the Koreans, and he told me to be wary of them. It’s a good group; the draw’s not been too unkind to us. Another really important thing is the location, as we’re due to play in the centre of Brazil. I’m happy.
Hong Myung Bo, Korea Republic
We played a friendly against Russia in November but we will have to study them again, as things have changed. People may think that it’s an easy group, but that’s not true – we shouldn’t underestimate any of our opponents because they’re all strong teams that are capable of going through. Only good sides make it to the World Cup. And so we’ll not only have to keep an eye on Russia, but on Belgium and Algeria too.