KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: Mexico will draw on the inspiration of their surprise gold medal triumph at the London 2012 Olympic Games when they come to Brazil for the Confederations Cup.
The Mexicans defeated Brazil– of all coincidental people – by 2-1 in the Olympics final at Wembley in August and national coach Manuel De la Torre recalled that glorious moment in his country’s sporting history when he looked ahead to next June.
“We know it will be a difficult tournament,” said De la Torre. “We are all competing with champions but it will also be important so we can measure the level we need to make progress [ahead of the World Cup].
“We are always determined to do the best wherever we play but every time we take part in a competition we go with the intention of winning, the way we did at the Olympics.
“We had high hopes ourselves although, at the beginning nobody else thought Mexico could achieve a medal. What happened was the result of good preparation work and then a good group performance. Nobody wins all by himself: it’s a team sport.”
Italy manager Cesare Prandelli forecast using the Confed Cup to test a number of under-21 players with a view to the long-term future of the Azzurri while compatriot Alberto Zaccheroni expressed Japan’s ambition to present Asian football in a positive light.
That is not an issue which will concern Vicente Del Bosque; the achievements of his Spanish national team over the past three years – one World Cup and two European titles – speak for themselves.
But Del Bosque has a score to settle with the Confederations Cup. The 2009 event was the first to which he had taken Spain after succeeding Luis Aragones as manager and they lost in the semi-finals to the United States. He promised he and his players would not overrate their own status or underrate the task next June.
“This will be a huge challenge,” said Del Bosque, “and we will prepare in the best way we can. For example, Brazil are always a world power and, playing at home and considering their history and players, they will be the team to beat.”
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