Comparison with Brazil fits UAE Under 20 team who can be inspirational one day and hopeless on another.
We are ready for anything, insists the bullish Farias
SUEZ, EGYPT // As far as compliments go, the UAE Under 20 team could not have asked for a better one. "They play a lot like Brazil," said the Venezuela coach Cesar Farias. He paused, before adding: "But they don't have the same kind of maturity." That description of Mahdi Ali's side fits like a glove. The Asian champions have clear talent yet can be frustratingly pedestrian at times. They can be inspirational one day, as against South Africa in the opening match, and hopeless on another, as was the case against Hungary in the final group game.
Farias lines up his squad against the UAE tonight for a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup and he is confident his side can cope with whichever team shows up at the Mubarak Stadium in Suez. "They are a strong side, but they are really complicated. We have prepared intensively," he said. "We have re-created every scenario possible and worked on solutions for them. We have done our research.
"We are confident of playing an intelligent game and we'll wait for our chances, that's our style. We are not going to rush in and play into their hands." Win or lose, tonight's game will be the coach's final match in Egypt as he has to return home to guide the senior national team in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Brazil scheduled for next week. That only increases his determination to make his farewell a fond one.
Farias is already assured of a place in Venezuelan football history after guiding the youth team to their first World Cup appearance, qualifying ahead of six-time champions Argentina. They have now reached the second round on their debut, but their ambitions do not stop here. "Venezuela are ready to face any opponent and we are looking beyond the second round," said Farias. "We are convinced we can reach the last four. We know that the second round will be a lot tougher than the group stages.
"There will be great pressure on the teams as the losers return home. "But psychologically this team has shown itself to be really strong and we are ready for anything the UAE will throw at us. "We know the fans will be on their side, but we are ready. We have qualified for the World Cup from South America, which probably requires double the effort of any other region. "So any team coming for such tournaments from South America are fully equipped for any challenges.
"Although this is our first time at the World Cup, I don't think that matters much. "I have no reason to think that we are weaker than any other side at this tournament. "So we go into this game not worrying much about what they have; they should be worrying about what we have." With six Europe-based players in the squad, there are plenty of names the UAE players will have to keep an eye out for - but one man they should pay really close attention to is Yonathan del Valle, the joint top-scorer of the tournament with four goals.
The diminutive striker and his team arrived in Suez two days before the UAE and that, according to Farias, gives Venezuela the advantage of better conditioning. "Fatigue could be a factor for them. Coming here earlier than our opponents is certainly an advantage," he said. "We have had more time to prepare for this game since our group matches finished earlier. "There are no injuries in the squad and no players are suspended.
"The spirits in the camp are high. "These last 10 days have been really important in the history of Venezuelan football and we are determined to extend this period of celebration." firstname.lastname@example.org