No easy Cup paths for the US, Mexico, says Klinsmann

Updated: 2013-02-06 07:50

By Agence France-Presse in Washington (China Daily)

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No easy Cup paths for the US, Mexico, says Klinsmann

US coach Juergen Klinsmann warned on Monday favorites Mexico and United States will face a difficult fight to reach the 2014 World Cup finals in final-round qualifying that starts on Wednesday.

"There's no easy way, not for Mexico, not for United States, not for anybody," the former German international star said. "You have to work hard. You have to get your points. You have to respect every opponent."

The Americans will open at Honduras, while Jamaica's Reggae Boyz visit Mexico and Panama will play host to Costa Rica to kick off 2013 Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football qualifying.

The three top teams after 10 round-robin matches will qualify for the finals in Brazil, while the fourth-place team will face the Oceania winner for another berth.

"Every World Cup qualifying round is unique, and CONCACAF is tricky in its own way. It will challenge you severely. It's all about determination and commitment. The way our players have presented themselves in training, it looks like they are ready," said Klinsmann, who guided host Germany to the 2006 World Cup semifinals.

The Americans were pushed to the final match before advancing in last year's semi-final round.

"One thing we learned from the semifinal round is that you have to bring the right mentality to play in the tough games on the road and I'm confident we are ready to do that," Klinsmann said.

"We want to have a sense of urgency right from the start ... We're ready to be focused in every one of those 10 games and be sharp and alert. If it goes down to the last game, we'll be prepared to the maximum."

The US lineup features striking duo Tottenham's Clint Dempsey and AZ Alkmaar's Jozy Altidore, Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard and new faces in midfield and defense, although there are some veterans also in the mix.

Roma's Michael Bradley has five US goals and 19 caps, but none of his fellow midfielders have found the net and six have fewer than 10 caps, while Carlos Bocanegra's 31 caps are 20 more than the other eight US defenders combined.

Honduras comes off a trip to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and features New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengtson and Wigan midfielder Roger Espinoza.

(China Daily 02/06/2013 page22)