KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: FIFA’s cluttering up of its own international calendar emerged as a concern for at least two of the managers bringing their countries to the Confederations Cup in Brazil next summer.
The Confed Cup is a rehearsal for the host nation one year out from the World Cup and offers the national team champions of the world federation’s six continents an opportunity to scope out conditions should they qualify for the finals.
But trying to do their best in both World Cup qualifiers and then the Confederations Cup may prove an awkward task for both Japan– who open the Confed Cup against Brazil– and for Uruguay.
Japan go to Iraq in their Asian qualifying group in the World Cup on June 11 only four days before they are due to take on Brazil in Brasilia in the Opening Match of the Confederations Cup.
Uruguay, semi-finalists at the 2010 World Cup but struggling of late in the current qualifiers, play away to Venezuela that same day and must then fly home to Montevideo before heading north again to confront world and European champions Spain – of all people – in their Confed start on June 16 in Recife.
Japan’s Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni said: “Our players are acquiring more experience all the time through playing in foreign countries, mainly Europe. We are eager to play this tournament and play well.
“The only major problem is that we will have to play Brazil here so soon after playing our last match in the World Cup qualifiers. It will be a matter of trying our best to arrange our travelling so we come here in the best shape we can.”
Zaccheroni will face the odd experience of hearing his own Italian national anthem being played for his opponents when Japan take on his friend Cesare Prandelli’s Azzurri in their second game. At least Japan may well play Iraq already assured of their place in the World Cup finals.
Uruguayan coach Oscar Washington Tabarez faces a far more testing run-up to the Confed Cup during which he must pull the Celeste back on course in the World Cup qualifiers and hope that the trip toVenezuela is a happy one.
He said: “The date of the game in Venezuela means the earliest we can come to Brazil is only four days before the kick-off so this is a bit strange. Something like this hasn’t happened to us before but we will try to plan for it: that’s our professional responsibility.”
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