x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Slovakia aim to spring early surprise

Brazil are the favourites to win it all, but Slovakia are intent on delivering a shock in the tournament's first match.

Jakub Hromada, the Slovakia captain, said it would be a "dream" to stun Brazil in the first match of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup. Ravindranath K / The National
Jakub Hromada, the Slovakia captain, said it would be a "dream" to stun Brazil in the first match of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // Jakub Hromada, the Slovakia captain, said he and his teammates “dream” off pulling off a surprise result when they meet Brazil, the three-time winners of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup, in tonight’s opener at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

“When we were drawn to play against Brazil in the opening match, it was a like a dream,” the midfielder said last night at the pre-match news conference.

“We were very excited to play Brazil in the first game because we know this game will be one of the highlights of the competition. This is the opportunity to realise some of our ambitions and dreams.

“Brazil is a strong team and they are the favourites to win the championship in Abu Dhabi. They are one of the biggest football countries but we can still surprise them.

“This is our dream.”

Ladislav Pecko, the Slovakia coach, buoyed by his team’s 2-1 win over Uruguay in a friendly in Dubai three days ago, said the players are ready to do their country proud on their first voyage at an U17 World Cup.

“We want to make good memories of our first U17 World Cup,” he said.

“It is already an achievement to be playing in this competition. It is a dream for us to be here and we want to keep that dream as long as possible.”

Brazil though are in no mood to allow any team to spoil their party.

“It is important for us to win the first game because we will not take any team in our group for granted,” said Alexandre Gallo, the Brazil coach.

“We have a very good side with some of the players first-team regulars in Brazilian clubs.

“Our intentions are very clear and that’s to win every game we play.”

Brazil are fresh off a win over Croatia in a friendly two days ago during their camp in Dubai.

“We have prepared well as any other team and our focus is on the first game,” Gallo said.

“Our build up for this competition has gone well and in the competition we will take one game at a time.”

apassela@thenational.ae

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