England pair ready for challenge
Nicholas Veevers in Ismailia
Saturday, 26 September, 2009
Brian Eastick and Martin Kelly speak to media ahead of World Cup opener.
England U20 Head Coach Brian Eastick and defender Martin Kelly were at the official FIFA press conference on Friday evening before Saturday's game with Uruguay and both admitted to being impressed with the opening stages of the competition.
The first match on Thursday saw the hosts beat Trinidad & Tobago by 4-1, in front of over 74,000 in Alexandria and that was preceded by a spectacular display to announce the arrival of the U20 World Cup in the north-African nation.
And the support garnered by the home team on Thursday was not lost on Eastick who was an interested observer from England’s Ismailia base.
“I think the opening ceremony on Thursday night was one of the most impressive things and to attract an attendance as big as that for the game between Egypt and Trinidad and Tobago was a massive compliment to the Egyptian people,” he said.
“It really justifies bringing this World Cup to Egypt and I can’t think of too many countries in the world where you would attract that number of people for an U20 game.
“It’s great credit to the organisers that were that many people at the game last night.”
Kelly was also quick to point out the hospitality that the squad have felt since arriving here on Monday.
“All of the players are happy to be here and the people in Egypt since we got here have been very friendly,” added the Liverpool starlet.
“We had our preparation in Cyprus before we came here and we just can’t wait for Saturday and our first game.”
Eastick also knows that it’s going to be a tough game for his side, with Uruguay tipped to be one of the main challengers for this year’s World Cup.
“They are a technically excellent team and very good going forward,” he revealed.
“We have been doing work in training to prepare for this game, so we’re looking forward to it.
“I think Uruguay will start the game as favourites, but we don’t mind being the second favourites as it’s usually England who are under pressure by being favourites to win matches.
“Our players are very much looking forward to it though and they see it as a great challenge and I think if we’re at our best then we have a chance of getting a decent result.
“But we are under no illusions, we know that Uruguay are a very good team and we will have to be at our best.”
Kelly was in agreement, adding: “It’s about playing as a team and we’re just concentrating on the game now.
“It’s always a privilege to be involved in an England squad and all the players will be trying their best tomorrow night.
“I think we can learn a lot from these games. There’s going to be a different sort of challenge from every match we have.
“We’ve just got to go out there and make a game of it and we’re here to win, not here to lose so that’s what we want to do tomorrow night.”
The game will be shown live on Eurosport, kicking off at 8.30pm BST.