His players set to play the biggest match of their lives, England head coach Steve Cooper today asserted that his side can match formidable Brazil in almost every aspect of the game and tomorrow’s FIFA U-17 World Cup semifinal could be decided by a few defining moments.
Addressing a press conference ahead of their semifinal match against Brazil at the Salt Lake Stadium here, Cooper said that his team has nothing to fear and they will play with the mindset that they will win tomorrow.
“Brazil are a strong all-round side. They played some great football against Germany after a goal down. They showed a lot of fight and spirit to win the game. It is likewise with us also. I don’t think there is a big difference tactically, physically and technically among the teams,” Copper said.
“Tomorrow’s match will be decided by a fine margin and through some defining moments, I’m sure. You go into the semifinal of a World Cup with your strength all over the pitch. We just want to play our way, get the right plan and deliver it ultimately,” he added.
He said the team which dominates the midfield tomorrow will come out triumphant.
Asked about the strength of the Brazil side, the England coach said, “We have a lot of respect for Brazil, for coach Carlos Amadeu. They have some good players. But we are proud to play the semifinals of a World Cup. We have nothing to fear, we will have to stick to our plan, treat the game as it comes. We will believe ourselves and give our all.
“It is the biggest game for all of us and a semifinal of a World Cup versus Brazil in a magnificent venue is amazing. There is everything to be excited about.”
Copped refused to dwell much on targeting a few Brazilian players for special treatment tomorrow and said he would rather want to focus on the strength of his side.
“We are aware of Brazil’s attacking strengths and they have some very good players like Lincoln or Paulinho. They can make a big difference for Brazil for sure and both can be threats to us. But there are also others (in Brazil team) who can make a difference.
“But I don’t think we can focus on any part of opposition. I will say both teams are strong throughout. There are players who can make a difference with the ball. We just have to be prepared for how to win the game and stop Brazil from playing their way,” said Copper.
“We have to think more about ourselves than about the opposition. We want to play possession based game, attractive football and work hard. If you change from game to game that means you don’t have a plan. But we do have a plan.”
England have already played four games at the Salt Lake Stadium but Copper said his side will not have any advantage of sorts. Rather, he said his side was aware of the partisan crowd rooting for Brazil against Germany.
“We know the crowd support (for Brazil) in the match against Germany. We are playing for fifth time tomorrow. It was four great experience here. But we still want crowd to support us more than the opposition.
“It’s an amazing experience to play here but it does not matter how many times you have played in a venue. To be honest, I don’t think of any advantage or disadvantage tomorrow for any team. But we know the journey, what the pitch looks liked and we want to make it a positive experience.”
Asked if humidity will have an impact on the players tomorrow, he said, “We played our first two games at 5pm against Chile and Mexico. There is a slight difference in the temperature and humidity but I would not say a massive one. These tournaments are brilliant to throw up different experiences to thrive on.”
Asked what he felt about the teams having to return here after the match was shifted from Guwahati, Cooper said, “We like it obviously. We planned to come back (if reached the final). I did not think it is this early to return here. I told the boys yesterday that it was a positive development. There were wonderful times on many occasions here. I was sad to leave Kolkata and really pleased to be back here.”
He said reaching up to here — the best show by an England team in a FIFA U-17 World Cup — was a testimony of the development of England football at all levels.
“The players need a lot of credit. The journey has not finished, looking forward tomorrow. It’s the best five weeks away from home. This will serve the players well for long term. When they play in the senior World Cup, they will be better placed. It won’t be a brand new experience for them.”