Stephen Keshi was the first to appear and claimed not to fear any of his team’s rivals. Then came Carlos Queiroz, whose good humour brought smiles to the faces of the journalists around him. Lastly, Alejandro Sabella made his audience wait but did not dodge a single question. His replies, however, were cautiously optimistic.
The Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ decided that Group F will be made up of Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria. And in order to find out the feelings of the respective coaches in the mixed zone after the event, FIFA.com asked each one to rate the group’s difficulty between one and 10. Here’s what they had to say:
Alejandro Sabella, Argentina
Ratings and predictions are difficult and I don’t like them, but if the ‘groups of death’ are a 10, I would say we were lucky because we avoided them… It’s a good group in terms of geography because we have two short trips and we also play a game in Belo Horizonte, which is where we will be based. To kick off at the Maracana makes us proud for what it signifies in both South American and world football. I’d be a hypocrite if I said Argentina weren’t the strongest team of the four, but football is the most illogical of sports. In general terms, I’m moderately optimistic.
Safet Susic, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Having seen the other groups, we can be satisfied. We don’t need to be unhappy, even though we share the group with Argentina, who are one of the favorites to win the world championship. Of the other teams, one is clearly weaker than us: Iran. The other, Nigeria, has in the worst-case scenario the same qualities we have, although they have more experience in World Cups. I believe we will fight for the second place with them.
Carlos Queiroz, Iran
I cannot give a number. The key will be in our preparation. If we work hard, we will have a good opportunity. If not, we won’t be in a position to take our chance. For us, qualification was hell, so being in this group now is like heaven. For my players, it should be an honour to play against these rivals and it is important they go out and enjoy every minute of every match, eager to make it to the second round. Facing Argentina at the Maracana? Let’s hope we can give Argentina a headache… Dreaming doesn’t pay the bills!
Stephen Keshi, Nigeria
I would rate it as a six because we play against three teams with totally different playing styles. We don’t know Iran or Bosnia in great detail yet, but it seems as if we play against Argentina in every World Cup – and it has always been difficult. Obviously I respect all three, though we have no reason to fear any of them. The most important thing is to prepare for the first game because that will show us what we are made of.