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U-17 MNT Head Coach John Hackworth Talks About the Draw

U.S. Head Coach John Hackworth
(listen to the full podcast)

On the draw:
On paper, it’s may seem like a favorable draw for us, however, in my experience at the Under-17 World Cup you never know really what’s going to happen because at this age level things are definitely a little unpredictable. We know very little about Tajikistan and Tunisia, so that is going to be a huge challenge for us. We do know a little about Belgium, but we have some work to do to get prepared for all of our teams in Group E. It will be very interesting come this August when we kick off the World Cup.”

On what he knows about the first opponent, Tajikistan:
“I’ve been doing my homework before the draw and after the draw we did sit with some people from North Korea and they did tell us that the Tajikistan is just like the North Koreans. Basically, like us, they are in full-time residency, they’re very committed and serious about their preparation. They’re similar to North Korea, and we played North Korea in Peru (at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup). Much like this, people said North Korea would be nothing and they turned out to be one of the surprise teams in that tournament. So, it sounds like we’ll have our hands full with Tajikistan.”

On scouting their opponents before the World Cup:
“With Tajikistan and Tunisia, it will be a little more difficult as both countries are from areas of the world that are remote to Americans, at least. With Belgium, they had their recent European Championships and we talked to France, so we’ve all ready gathered some information.”

On what he knows about the venues of Changwon and Cheonan:
“I only know that Changwon is on the southern coast, on the Korean strait, across from Japan. We will actually fly there tomorrow and do a site visit, so we’ll get to see the city and the venue, but really we don’t know anything at this point.”

On what the preparations will be from now until August to get ready for the World Cup:
“We’re actually coming back to Korea to play in an eight-nation tournament in June. It is a very good tournament as it has Brazil, Ghana, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and hopefully a European team in there as well. That will be a very good tournament for our players to not only go up against quality competition, but we’ll also have the guys in the country for four games all at different sites, and they’ll become familiar with the country. We’re going to have some big domestic camps where we’ll look at a large pool of players and we’ll also try and get over to Europe in July and possibly play Germany and France. We’ll also try and get to South Korea early to get accustomed to the time change, and then possibly face North Korea in a last tune-up game. We have a good schedule and will have quality preparation leading up to the World Cup.”