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Uruguay coach Alonso: Suarez is ready for World Cup match

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DOHA, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — Diego Alonso, Uruguay’s head coach, said the country’s signature star Luis Suarez is fit enough to feature in their opening World Cup match against South Korea on Thursday.

“He is as fit as other players, he is ready for the game,” said Alonso, adding the 35-year-old striker was enjoying the atmosphere of attending another edition of the World Cup tournament.

However, he admitted that he had not yet decided on the starters against South Korea.

“With our strikers, our plan is to put a good performance in the first game. We are very much excited about what we can produce,” said Alonso.

“We have peace of mind because we have goalscoring opportunities, flexibility not only with our strikers, we are good defensively and this will make us a very competitive team,” he added.

Coached in China’s Super League club in 2017, Alonso replaced Oscar Tabarez last November. Speaking of the others’ opinion that he had little experience at the World Cup level, Alonso said everyone is entitled to have their view but he needed to focus on the game with the whole team, particularly the opening game.

A video went viral on the internet recently that each player of the country’s 26-man squad was unveiled by his hometown folks. Speaking of which, Alonso admitted it was a great opportunity to promote Uruguay, as well as a strong single to showcase the bond between players and their people.

“The video was an extraordinary work, and we are also promoting the country through the clip,” said Alonso.

Diego Godin, the 36-year-old veteran as well as captain of the team, told the same press conference that he made a huge effort to deal with pain through difficult situations and now got ready to put on the shirt for his fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup journey.

“We qualified for a new World Cup. My teammate on this boat with a common dream that we all share with the idea to win. And we have dreams and then realized, we will be coming out there to compete from the very first match,” said Godin.

The match is set to take place at the Education City Stadium, with the game kicking off at 4 p.m. local time on Thursday.

The two teams are joined in Group H by Portugal and Ghana.

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Van Gaal: Netherlands can go all the way in World Cup

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DOHA, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) — Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal asked for improvement from his side but insisted they can also win the World Cup after beating the USA 3-1 in their last-16 game on Saturday.

The Netherlands became the first side to qualify for the quarterfinals with goals from Memphis Depay, Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries, who was also voted Player of the Match after giving assists in the first two goals.

However, the ever-demanding coach insisted his players had to improve.

“I was very critical in my halftime analysis,” commented Van Gaal.

“In the first half, they (USA) dispossessed us so much, and that is not acceptable. You can’t accept that if you play top level teams. We did better in the second half, even though there were fewer goals.”

“They were great goals and really good team goals,” he explained, repeating his claim that the Netherlands can go all the way to the final in Qatar.

“Some top teams are out and we have three games ahead of us. We can become world champions. I don’t say we will become world champions, but we can be. It is about team building,” he said.

“This gives you confidence. The players are pleased and excited. We will look at the game again tomorrow and then we will roll up our sleeves and get back to work,” commented Van Gaal, who was pleased that other sides are not adapting to counter the Dutch wing-backs.

“I suppose the stronger the rival is the less likely they are to adjust to our system. I don’t think Spain, France or Argentina will adapt to the Netherlands, so I think we have a big chance here,” he concluded.

Meanwhile Dumfries was happy with the way the Dutch wing-backs had a role in all of their goals.

“In the first goal, you see everything from the system we play. We attack spaces and move the ball well. It was a great goal and that is how you see the core of our system,” Dumfries said.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Messi: We are one step closer to our objective

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DOHA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) — Lionel Messi said Argentina had taken “one more step” toward their goal of World Cup glory by overcoming Australia in a dramatic round of 16 clash here on Saturday.

Messi sent Argentina on course for victory with a first-half strike, and Julian Alvarez doubled the lead before Craig Goodwin’s shot deflected in off Enzo Fernandez, ensuring a dramatic conclusion at Ahmad bin Ali stadium.

Messi’s goal, which came in his 1000th game for club and country, marked the first time he has scored in a World Cup knockout match.

“One more target has been reached. We are one step closer to our objective,” Messi told a news conference.

“It was a tough game, we knew it was going to be like that. We didn’t have much time to rest and we were worried about that. We knew it was going to be a tough game. They are physically very strong. We were able to get the advantage and then it got complicated. We suffered a bit at the end but it’s the World Cup. All games are difficult.”

Messi paid tribute to the tens of thousands of Argentine fans at the stadium, many of whom sang and chanted throughout the 90 minutes. Argentina’s players made a point of applauding them on the pitch after the final whistle.

“It was beautiful to be with them,” the 35-year-old forward said. “I think all of Argentina would like to be here, but obviously that can’t happen.

“We are always thrilled to play in front of these fans and it’s great to have their support every match, to feel their joy and passion.”

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Cameroon coach Song ‘proud’ after historic win over Brazil

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LUSAIL, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) — Cameroon manager Rigobert Song said he was proud of his players after a historic 1-0 victory over Brazil in their World Cup Group G match here on Friday.

A stoppage-time header from Vincent Aboubakar gave the Indomitable Lions the first ever win by an African team over Brazil at the World Cup.

But it wasn’t enough to earn Cameroon a place in the knockout stage in Qatar as they finished third in their group, behind Brazil and Switzerland.

“We have a feeling of regret because this match showed that we could have done better in the first two games,” said Song, referring to a 3-3 draw with Serbia and a 1-0 loss to Switzerland.

“But you have to look at the positive side. We’re satisfied with tonight’s performance. I took over the team not that long ago and we’re progressing.

“I’m proud of my players. We’re trying to get across the Lions’ spirt. We’ve shown that we can be a good team and now we have to make sure that we keep improving.”

He admitted he wasn’t initially aware of the magnitude of his team’s achievement.

“I didn’t even realize it was such a historic victory. My players should be congratulated and they’ve shown they could have done better [earlier in the tournament]. It’s a shame we have to go home now but we are going to keep working so that we improve.”

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