Chatting with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said he fears nothing with the World Cup draw taking place tomorrow. Not Brazil, not Spain, not anybody.
Well, there is one thing.
He doesn’t want to draw a first-round game in Manaus, the 11th most populous city in Brazil also known as the Heart of the Amazon.
“Everyone wants to avoid Manaus, there’s no doubt about it,” said Klinsmann. “It’s an unlucky decision to have a location like that in a World Cup, because of the flight, because of the circumstances there. I think it shouldn’t have been a location for the World Cup.”
The Arena de Amazonia is currently under construction in Manaus, and is approximately 88% complete according to an official announcement in October.
The city is one of just two World Cup sites that will be in the Amazon Time Zone (GMT -4), along with Cuiaba. The other eight are in Brazil Official Time (GMT -3).
Let’s remind everyone of why Manaus is such an unwanted destination. A coordinator of the Arena de Amazonia construction told the New York Times in September that the searing rainforest sun in Manaus is hot enough to melt the paint on stadium seating. The construction team had to drain a tributary of the Amazon River to begin building. The humidity can cause steel to buckle.
Doesn’t sound like a place anybody wants to play sports, let alone build a soccer stadium.
Aside from that one location though, Klinsmann is almost hoping for a difficult route through the event, saying at some point if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.
“There won’t be an easy group,” the US head coach admitted to Wahl. “It’s just not happening. I think we’re going to hit a very difficult one, and it’s fine with me, because that’s what the World Cup is about. You have to face the big ones anyway at a certain stage if you want to do well.”
Klinsmann says he believes the upcoming month-long camp in January will be crucial for attending players to prepare for any situations that may arise in Brazil – on the pitch or off it.
“In a World Cup you have to improve every area of the game on the field, if it’s tactically, physically, the transition game, compactness defensively, spreading out right away attacking or movement off the ball…We’re going to travel extensively. Things won’t be perfect, if it’s hotels, tickets, family, whatever. Just be prepared for it. If something doesn’t work out the way it should, so be it. No problem. Forget about it and move on.”
Klinsmann will regroup with the squad January 6th in Los Angeles before leading the team to their World Cup headquarters in Brazil on the 12th of January. They will return on the 25th before preparing for a friendly with South Korea on February 1st.
The World Cup draw will take place on Friday at 11:00am ET.