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11.12.2005 Football News

Djukovic hoping for an upset

By Raymond B.A.R
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Marcello Lippi (ITA coach)

Our group is difficult but at the same time fascinating, as both Czech Republic and the United States are above us in the FIFA World Ranking. What I'm trying to say is that they are both excellent teams, but they are not necessarily superior to us. We shall see who is best on the day. As for Ghana, it would be a big mistake to underestimate them. They're not known as the Brazil of Africa for nothing. That said, a national team coach should not be afraid of anyone, even the best team in the world. Thats not meant to sound smug in any way. I just mean that as national team coach, you always have to look for the best formula to win any match. I have a lot of experience in this job and that has always been my way of approaching things. Consequently, we will be aiming to go as far as possible.

Ratomir Djukovic (GHA coach)

I don't think we can get into first position, but naturally we will try and maybe we can surprise somebody. The favourites in our group are the Italians and the Czech Republic as they are both very, very strong. We have quite a few of our squad with experience of playing Italy and they know a lot of their players, but that won't be a key to that particular match, of course. We have plenty of time to spy on the other teams now and also for them to put their spies onto us. I am an optimist and my team will be optimistic also. We will fight until the last minute to try to get past their first stage and if we manage that, it will be like becoming World Cup winners.

Bruce Arena (USA coach)

I don't think we're in a 'group of death' or anything like that. Bearing in mind what could have happened, our group is not that bad. We'll take it step by step and try to pick up as many points as we can. We'll have to work hard, get the squad in the right frame of mind and make sure they ignore what the media says about our opponents. You have to be very careful. There's always a dark horse that comes through and it could be our turn to face them. Nobody gave Turkey much hope in 2002, let alone Greece in EURO 2004 and they went on to win it. I'm going to get the players together for two whole months, and we'll be speaking non-stop to the players to get them right mentally. The squad's coming along nicely and I've already got 90 per cent of the starting line-up sorted out. They know me and they're very motivated, but they can't afford to be complacent.

Karel Bruckner (CZE coach)

Am I satisfied with the draw? I'm only ever satisfied at Ch! ristmas! There is never an easy group in the World Cup these days and there are no longer any outsiders as we all pretty much play on the same level, but let me say, you can all write this down – Italy are the favourites in this group. We have three Czech players in the Italian league, so they will know our opponents very well. I haven't seen the United States play much lately, but we came up against them at the Olympics at Sydney in 2000 (a 2-2 draw) with our U-21 team and a lot of the same players will be there for us again in 2006, so that's interesting. I'm surprised that USA qualified first in their group, but we will not be underestimating them or Ghana.

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