FIFA U-17 World Cup: Spain coach Santiago Denia denies pressure of facing Brazil

Spain, who are the European U-17 champions, are under no pressure to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup and are well prepared ahead of their clash against Brazil, says coach Santiago Denia

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 06, 2017 19:30 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, Kochi
FIFA U-17 World Cup,Spain,Brazil
Spain, who have finished runners-up three times in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, will be eager to get going against Brazil, who are without their star player Vinicius Junior.(FIFA U-17 website)

Coming in as the reigning U-17 European champions, big things are expected of Spain in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which kicked off on Friday.

The three-time U-17 World Cup runners-up take on Brazil in their opening match in Group D at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday, in what is expected to be one of the best games in the preliminary stage of the tournament.

Addressing a pre-match press conference on Friday, coach Santiago Denia, however, sought to downplay the pressure on his team.

“There’s no pressure on us. We have never won the U-17 World Cup, but we will try to win it this time. I think this is the most difficult group in this World Cup. It’s important to win the first match. Knowing that Brazil are the favourites, a win will help in lifting the team spirit,” he said.

With quite a few Barcelona players in the team, there were inevitably questions about the upheaval caused by the Catalonia referendum and its possible impact on the team. Denia shot down any suggestions of division in his side.

“We have come here to win the World Cup. We have a united country,” he said. “It’s our job to unite players from different teams.”

Despite being the European champions in their age group, the coach said there was no room for complacency. “We’ve to improve in every aspect of the game. There is room for improvement for everyone, not just the players, but the staff as well,” he said.

Spain dismiss Vinicius factor

Abel Ruiz, the Barcelona B striker and the player who will be leading the attack here, too played down talk of pressure ahead of the game against Brazil.

“We are feeling great. We’ve great ambience in the team.”

Ruiz said despite the absence of their best player Vinicius Junior, Brazil would still be a force.

“We know Vinicius is not playing for Brazil, but we still have to prepare well, and as the coach said, we have been preparing well in the last two weeks.”

Spain’s will face Niger on October 10 and North Korea on October 13 in the group.

First Published: Oct 06, 2017 19:29 IST