Benitez brushes off Chelsea pressure in Japan
Benitez brushes off Chelsea pressure in Japan
Benitez, runner-up as Liverpool manager at the 2005 Club World Cup in Japan, brushed off fears that a slip-up this time might cost him his job.
“With the economic crisis around the world everybody is under pressure,” he told reporters after Chelsea’s arrival in the Far East.
“I don’t have a problem with pressure. The future is the next game and the one after that.”
Chelsea face Mexico’s Monterrey in Yokohama on Thursday, and will hope to meet either South American champions Corinthians or Egypt’s Al-Ahly in the final on Dec. 16.
“It’s a massive competition,” Benitez said. “Everybody here has the same idea as me — to win every trophy.
“It doesn’t matter if we are in the Champions League or not,” added Benitez, who won the Club World Cup with Inter Milan in 2010 in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s a great opporunity and we’re here to win. We won our last two games and we’re playing well.”
With striker Fernando Torres rediscovering his scoring touch with four goals in two games, including two in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Sunderland, Benitez backed his players to continue their recent improvement.
“Fernando is in a good position now because the team is creating more chances and because the team is doing well,” said Benitez, who replaced the sacked Roberto Di Matteo last month.
“I can communicate with him in a different way and work with him but the main thing is his team mates playing well.”
Goalkeeper Petr Cech said the dethroned European champions could live with the pressure of being labelled favorites to win the Club World Cup at the first attempt.
“We came to win the competition and will try to prove it on the pitch,” he said.
“You can only play in this competition if you win the Champions League and I’ve had to wait eight years to get here.
“As the boss said, the last two results were very good for us so we’ll try to carry that momentum and hope it takes us through.”
Cech also gave the goal-line technology being used in Japan by FIFA for the first time the thumbs-up.
“I’m very happy with the decision,” Cech said with a sideways glance at Benitez, whose Liverpool side knocked Chelsea out of the 2004-05 Champions League through Luis Garcia’s “ghost” goal.
“I’ve been saying for 10 years football needed something like this. Results of certain competitions could be different.
“As a player you would rather wait for the right decision than be disappointed at the end of the game.”
Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss
- Saudi Arabia's 1996 Asian Cup-winning coach Nelo Vingada backs Pizzi to lead side into next year's Asian Cup.
- Green Falcons face Egypt on Monday with both looking to land their first point in Russia.
MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s 1996 Asian Cup-winning boss Nelo Vingada has called on the country’s football authorities to keep faith with head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi despite a disappointing showing in Russia.
The Green Falcons still have to face Egypt in the final match of Group A, but have already been eliminated following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia in the opening game on June 14 in Moscow and a 1-0 loss to Uruguay five days later in Rostov.
“I was expecting a little more from Saudi Arabia to be honest,” Vingada told Arab News.
“In the first game they were disappointing but a first game of the World Cup is always hard and especially when it is the first game and everyone is watching. Plenty of teams at the World Cup did not play well in the first game.
“But playing Russia in Russia and to lose is what you would normally expect from Saudi Arabia and while it was far from positive, people should not get carried away.
“The game with Uruguay was much improved in terms of organization and defense and it showed more of the character of the Saudi Arabia team.”
In the past, coaches have been axed following disappointing World Cup campaigns but with the 2019 Asian Cup just seven months away, the Portuguese tactician would prefer to see some stability rather than yet another new man in the dugout.
“The Asian Cup is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be one of the contenders,” Vingada said. “It is better to stay with the same coach. He has a vision of how he wants the team to play and he now knows the players and the players know him.”
Constant changing has not helped Saudi Arabia in the past and Pizzi himself has been in the job just seven months.
“The problem is not the coach. He should not be changed, that has happened before but results did not improve, but the mentality has to change.”
Despite that Vingada, who has coached Egyptian club giants Zamalek and the country’s Under-23 team, believes that the Pharaohs, also eliminated, will prevail when the two regional rivals meet on Monday in Volgograd.
“This is an important game for pride, the players and the countries. It is still the World Cup. Egypt have a little more quality I think and have Mohamed Salah too.”
The Liverpool striker has been recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in late May and missed the opening game 1-0 loss to Uruguay. He played in the second game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Russia, scoring from the spot late in the match to earn a consolation.
“Any coach would take Salah because he can win you games but overall Egypt have been a little disappointing and a little unlucky.”
The bad luck came when conceding a last-minute goal to Uruguay and a fluke own goal to get Russia off the mark. “Uruguay are a tough team and it is no shame to lose 3-1 to a Russia team at home who are playing to qualify for the next round. It showed that European and South American teams still have a little more quality.”
“Egypt just made some mistakes at the wrong time but this is football and without mistakes there are no goals.”
Ahead of the clash against Egypt Pizzi confirmed his intention to stay as Saudi Arabia boss, looking to build on the seven months he has had to imprint his ideas on the team ahead of the Asian Cup.