Saturday, July 26, 2008

El Salvador's National Soccer Team


There's a nice article on the website of FIFA with an interview with Carlos de los Cobos, coach of El Salvador's national soccer team:

El Salvador's win over Panama last month in the North, Central American and Caribbean zone qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ was one of the biggest shocks of the preliminary competition so far. Ranked 60 places below the Canaleros in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, the Cuscatlecos were not expected to unduly trouble their Central American cousins, and not even their own fans held out much hope of victory.

However, no one gave the script to Carlos de los Cobos' men who, after a narrow 1-0 defeat in Panama, turned the tie around with a magnificent 3-1 win in San Salvador to progress to the first group phase of CONCACAF qualifying. So how did they do it? In an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, their Mexican coach gives his take on the resurgence of Salvadoran football.

More than anyone, De los Cobos knows the difficulties Cuscatleco football had to overcome to get this far. When the coach was appointed back in 2006, the team had gone almost two years without a win.

"It hasn't been easy," says the former Mexican international. "We've faced a lot of obstacles in the time I've been in charge, but I've managed to motivate the squad and instil something in the youngsters that had been lost: the desire to play for the national team. The key has been getting that commitment from the players and building a team that has its own playing style."

That formula, which proved so effective in beating Panama, makes for deceptively simple reading. "Even though Salvadoran players are not the biggest physically, they have very good technique and skills. Moreover, they possess good stamina, which allows them to maintain a good rhythm during the game. Then there's their tactical discipline and positional sense, which helps them keep their shape on the pitch. Not having any big-name stars means we focus on the group," says the coach. (more).

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