Tim Brown:

Soccer-Reaction to World Cup draw

Reuters

Dec 6 (Reuters) - Reaction following Friday's 2014 World Cup draw.

Group A

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari

"This is the sixth Cup for Croatia. They have a very good team. For Cameroon it's the fifth time and they've achieved some feats in Cups. And Mexico is a very tough adversary. There are no easy groups.

"It's always good to start off against a European team because they have to go through an adaptation period in Brazil and there are a series of things they'll need to implement," he said of the tournament opener against Croatia on June 12.

"It will be a balanced first match but we live here, we work here and we know this country better than anybody."

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Croatia coach Niko Kovac

"Having been drawn in such a tough group we will be delighted to open the World Cup against the host nation. Little Croatia against the big and mighty Brazil will be quite a match-up. A huge motive for my players and a very special occasion for us.

"We are going there to play entertaining football and do the best we can to make an impact but I can't promise passage into the last 16. The most important thing is that we prepare well and leave nothing left to chance in terms of fitness."

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Group B

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque

"I don't think it is the 'group of death', there are very strong opponents in other groups. But yes it is a tough one.

"We will have to be prepared right from the first day, focus ourselves.

"They will demand the very best from us but it is in our own hands too and doesn't just depend on our opponents."

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Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli

"This is a very complicated group considering the rivals. Obviously, playing against two very important Europeans including the defending champions, is always going to be (tough).

"One assumes that the rivals are difficult because of their history but when it comes time to play we hope Chile can play big games like we did against England and Spain."

Chile beat England 2-0 at Wembley last month and drew 2-2 against Spain in Switzerland in September.

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Australia coach Ange Postecoglou

"We're a young nation in football terms so it is our chance to make headlines.

"It's a tough group, an exciting group. All the teams play good football."

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Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal

"As far as opponents are concerned it is a tough draw. The conditions are even tougher. We are playing the world champions, we've never won against Australia and Chile are no slouches. We play in tough venues, it is certainly not easy at all."

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Group C

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman

"It's a balanced group, we have one African team, one Asian and one European. We've shown we can compete with any team with a lot of character."

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Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni

"It's a shame we've been grouped with the best African side but we haven't been hit with another European team. It's one thing having to take on Greece and another facing up to Holland or France.

"We'll be playing in the heat but we have the experience of playing in the 2013 Confederations Cup."

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Group D

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli

"We're not worried about the group. I would have been worried if the media had started saying that it was an easy group.

"The conditions (in Manaus) worry me because it's not just about taking on these teams but how you do it.

"We maybe have a slight advantage over the other teams - apart from Uruguay - because we know the difficulties that we had to face in the Confederations Cup."

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England coach Roy Hodgson

"It's a tough group, there's no doubt about that. A lot of people are saying they are in tough groups but there is no doubt that in Italy and Uruguay we've almost got two number one seeds because Italy were very unlucky not to be seeded among the first eight.

"There is a lot of travelling to be done in a lot of the groups and our great advantage is that being based in Rio de Janeiro we've only got the one long trip (to Manaus).

"The other two trips to Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte are relatively short trips to the same neck of the woods."

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Uruguay forward Diego Forlan

"In comparison with what other teams have got, it's the hardest group of this World Cup. But you have to play the matches and at the last World Cup we were in a very complicated group but came through well."

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Group E

France coach Didier Deschamps

"It could have been more complicated. Beyond the name of our opponents the other good thing is that we won't play in the northern towns where the temperatures are high, we'll stay in our zone.

"We know Switzerland well, they were seeded so obviously are the toughest opponents. We don't know Ecuador and Honduras that well and it will have an influence on our preparation. We'll play at least one pre-tournament friendly against a South American nation."

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Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld

"A very tense and level group with different mentalities.

"European teams facing teams from South America and from Central America. It's a very interesting group to play in. France are very effective opponents but no need to complain. We must use the time that we have to prepare for the conditions that we are going to face."

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Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda

"The humidity issue? Ecuador does well in that type of climatic situation.

"To face Honduras (who Rueda coached at the 2010 finals) it does help a lot. We know each other and it's a match we have to play intelligently."

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Group F

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella

"We didn't get the group of death and we got a geographical area playing in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre, that is in general terms positive.

"Everyone knows I'm a great admirer of Brazilian football, on top of that they're the home side, which is a double edged sword.

"Brazil (who Argentina could meet in the knockout rounds) have a great coach and great players who will make being at home an advantage."

Bosnia coach Safet Susic

"Argentina are the group favourites and it will be a very special occasion for us to play our opening match against them at the Maracana Stadium. We should have an even chance alongside Nigeria to clinch the runners-up spot although no one should underestimate Iran either.

"We have a fair chance of reaching the knockout rounds."

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Iran coach Carlos Queiroz

"We are here to play against the best in the world and, to have the opportunity to play against Argentina early on, well, we could not ask for more."

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Group G

Germany coach Joachim Loew

"We will be meeting old friends. It's already something special to have the U.S. in our group. (Coach) Juergen (Klinsmann) and I have had a very good and close relationship for a long time. We have always exchanged ideas on a regular basis but that will certainly change before the World Cup match."

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Portugal coach Paulo Bento

"It looks like a pretty balanced group to me, with a favourite that is Germany.

"We also started the last European Championship against Germany, we lost 1-0 but put in a good match.

"The U.S. and Ghana are also very organised sides with many players having European football experience."

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Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah

"It's nice to meet Germany and also the U.S. who we beat in the last 16 in 2010. We are a better team than in 2010 and I'm sure there will be a lot of surprises in this group."

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United States coach Juergen Klinsmann

"I had a feeling in my stomach we'd get Germany. It's one of the most difficult groups in the whole draw. Including having Portugal and (their top striker Cristiano) Ronaldo ... it couldn't get more difficult or any bigger.

"But that's what the World Cup is about and we'll take it. Hopefully we'll surprise some people there. We're going to be prepared, we're going to be confident."

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Group H

Russia coach Fabio Capello

"The physical stature of two of the teams worries me. South Korea are physically strong and Belgium have excellent players who are also very quick."

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South Korea coach Hong Myung-bo

"We played a friendly against Russia in November but we will have to study them again, things change. People may think it's an easy group but it's not true. We should not underestimate any of our opponents, they are all strong and can go through." (Reporting by Josh Reich; editing by Tony Jimenez)

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