NIKE U.S. Cup 2000 Press Conference Quote Sheet - Tournament Preview
NEW YORK (Monday, May 1, 2000) -
Bruce Arena, U.S. Men's National Team head coach
USA outlook for Nike U.S. Cup 2000: "We are very excited about the Nike U.S. Cup this year, playing three outstanding teams in what I feel are three great venues in the Unites States: RFK in Washington, D.C., Foxboro Stadium and Giants Stadium in New Jersey. I think these are venues that will support not only the U.S. team, but our opponents as well. The field is outstanding. Mexico is a team we've had a lot of difficulty with over the last few years. South Africa is a team with terrific promise and a team that is going to give us everything we can deal with on that day. And Ireland is a team that has been pretty successful over tha last couple of months in European competition. This is very important for us in terms of our preparation, come July 12, for our first World Cup qualifying game. This is the first time in about 18 months that we'll have our full team together. We have not been able to do this in our previous 20 matches, and this is very exciting to me."
On his knowledge of the South African team: "I'll be honest, I don't know too much about South Africa. Obviously we know their captain, Shaun Bartlett, and I'm well aware of some of their players in Europe. I'm well aware of their success in the African Nations Cup. We have about one month now to get our team prepared with the likelihood of facing a very difficult team. We'll devote all our energies now towards preparing for South Africa."
On what he took away from the Russia match: "I liked our attitude coming out onto the field given the fact that we experienced a lot of difficulties - an eleven-hour time difference for some players, and our travel time, anywhere from 11 to 14 hours coming from MLS. (The players) brought a good attitude onto the field and they took the game to Russia and created a number of very good scoring opportunities. On the negative side we didn't finish our chances and we walked off the field as losers. That's a negative, but I like the attitude our players brought to the field, and I like the opportunity to once again see some of our players who are playing on European club teams. To go into Russia and create a half-dozen good scoring opportunities is very good."
On how he can ensure that the U.S. finishes scoring opportunities: "I can't ensure that scoring will happen. I'm just hopeful that we create more chances. We have scored goals on a regular basis in international soccer, and I'm not just going to look at one game and determine that we don't have players who can finish."
On Joe-Max Moore and Eddie Lewis in England: "I'm pleased with the way that Joe-Max has played lately with Everton. He sustained an injury three weeks ago to his medial collateral ligament that hasn't responded well to therapy. He'll be in the United States this week and we're hopeful that he can get back in form and be a part of the team for Nike U.S. Cup. Lewis is very comfortable and has stepped right into a position with Fulham. He's enjoying the opportunity, and what little we saw of him in Russia I think it's going to be a beneficial experience to Eddie and U.S. Soccer."
On the strength of the CONCACAF region: "I believe it is a very difficult region. We (team) will be tested to the fullest extent. Mexico is always the favorite, especially playing at home. Canada has improved after capturing the CONCACAF Gold Cup this year. You can also put in the mix teams like Jamaica and Costa Rica, who will be very tough to beat on the road."
On the importance of Nike U.S. Cup: "With the 2002 World Cup Qualification just around the corner, the U.S. Cup becomes more significant to us. During the U.S. Cup, you will probably see close to our full line-up that will compete in the first qualifier in July. We (team) have two objectives for the U.S. Cup, one to try to win and second to get ready for the World Cup Qualifying."
Raymond Hack, Secretary General, South African Football Association
South Africa outlook for Nike U.S. Cup 2000: "We have a tremendous relationship with US Soccer in regards to the exchange which is taking place, not only in communications and information, but also with personnel. What we bring to this tournament is something the American public has not seen in a long time. We bring fresh and very different talent. Africa has always been praised for its skills, and while I appreciate the strength of Mexico, and remembering the hiding we took from Mexico in 1992, we certainly have something to prove here. The strength of the U.S.A. is well-known. They brought a federation that came out of infancy and grew into a very powerful nation. Ireland is always a very strong competitor. A lot of our players play in the English Leagues, and they know the strength and tenacity of the Irish players. When the South African players come here you will see a very, very vibrant team, and a team full of skill and enthusiasm. We're not making this long trip for nothing."
On South Africa's chances of hosting World Cup 2006: "We are very positive about our bid to become the first African Nation to host the 2006 World Cup. We have a very successful evalution by the FIFA Technial Study Group and we are confident that they will make a fair decision at the end."
Tom King, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Soccer
On television coverage for Nike U.S. Cup 2000: "All three U.S. matches will be broadcast on Network or cable television. Our opening game, against South Africa will be carried live on ABC at 4 p.m. ET. Our match on June 6 against Ireland is live on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, and the final game against Mexico on June 11 will be shown on ABC at 1 p.m. ET."
On television coverage for upcoming World Cup qualifiers: "The World Cup qualifying road games are part of a reciprocity agreement with Inter Forever, which is the marketing arm of CONCACAF. And we do have the rights for the signal for each of our three away qualifiers in the semifinal round. So with that signal it is now to be determined as to whether those matches will be on network, which is ABC-TV, cable (ESPN or espn2), or, in the third alternative, on pay-per-view. We will endeavor to get all our games on television, but it is subject to available television inventory."
On his outlook for Nike U.S. Cup 2000: "We're looking forward to welcoming the champions of the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup (Mexico) to this event. Our Men's National Team will travel to South Africa for the Mandela Cup in the next two years, and we are honored to have received the invitation. This will be a very competitive tournament, and we are thrilled with the caliber of the teams coming in. This is probably the strongest field of teams since the 1993 Cup with Brazil, England and Germany."
Mick McCarthy, Ireland National Team head coach
On Ireland's preparations for Nike U.S. Cup 2000: "We had a game last week against Greece, although we had nine withdrawals from the squad prior to the game and we had three or four debutantes play very well. We've got Scotland coming up, and a testimonial match coming up for two of our older players against Liverpool. That's our preparation, Liverpool and Scotland, then we fly to Chicago to play Mexico at Soldier Field."
Hugo Kisse, Mexico National Teams President
On competing in Nike U.S. Cup 2000: "We are happy, proud and honored to be a part of Nike U.S. Cup 2000. We are looking forward to a great event. For years now we are working together to make this event bigger. Year by year we have observed how this tournament has been growing. Again, we would like to thank USSF for inviting us to this event and continuously making us part of this cup."
On frequent USA v. Mexico match-ups: "I think it is important to play with the teams from the same confederation. Because this way is the best way to find out about the level of the teams, and more so in the case of Mexico versus the United States because we are always in one of the top positions. I think it is good to have such meetings."