Carlos Alberto Parreira, South Africa coachFor the first time in a long while, we were witness to a World Cup draw that is pretty even overall, without a particularly easy group or a group of death. In what I would describe as an open draw, we definitely have the most open group. Up against two former world champions – France and Uruguay – I realise that the task ahead looks difficult, but we're ready to tackle it head-on with pride and courage. A tough challenge awaits us, but we're capable of meeting it if we put in the hard work in the run-up. I'm obviously aware of the importance of the first match, but I don’t intend to simply focus on that game. I would rather look at the group as a whole, because if we were to beat Mexico but then lose to the two other teams, it would all be for nothing. That said, there is no doubt that winning the opening match is always crucial for morale.
Javier Aguirre, Mexico coachIt was a very emotional yet enjoyable moment when I saw that we would be taking part in the opening match. We’re very much aware that the eyes of the world will be upon us that day – expectations will of course be high, and we are confident of being able to rise to the occasion. South Africa will be under considerable pressure as host nation, but they will also benefit from immense local support and familiarity with their surroundings. I’m not going to label this group either difficult or manageable – I’m going to call it unique, without one clear favourite. We are due to face three opponents that all possess their own distinct style. We’re going to have to study them closely, to get to know them and to select appropriate opposition in our upcoming friendly matches to accustom ourselves to similar styles of play. Even if our pool does indeed contain two previous World Cup winners, I happen to believe that from the moment my players walk out on to the pitch, history is no longer a factor.
Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay coachThe group is an open one. It includes the host nation, which is always a tough proposition anyway, but it is made harder by the fact they are a solid unit and have been strengthened by the return of Parreira. He knows better that anyone how to go about preparing a team for this tournament. As for France and Mexico, they represent experienced opponents who are regulars at World Cups. I would therefore be inclined to say that it is a difficult draw, but also that we’re not just here to make up the numbers. As of now, we can start concentrating on putting preparations in place for the competition. I’ve got six months to condition my team so that they are ready and able to qualify for the Round of 16. I can’t say for sure if we will qualify, but what I know is that it is within our capabilities. I’m fortunate to coach a team that is a blend of young players, motivated by the very thought of playing in South Africa, and experienced campaigners, who won’t feel overwhelmed by the event in any way.
Raymond Domenech, France coachThe first thing that’s clear when you look at the make-up of the eight groups – and ours in particular – is that it’s not going to be easy for anyone. We are truly delighted and honoured to be playing against an African team at the first World Cup to be held in the continent, but even more so against the host nation. We’re all aware that they will have the unwavering support of the whole country behind them, and that will be something we will have to deal with. We can also look forward to facing two teams from Latin America, and we know that they will be challenging opponents. One advantage for us is that they play a style that we are familiar with – very skilful, and capable of lulling teams into a false sense of security. We must be careful not to fall into that trap. We’ve played against both these teams in the not-too-distant past, so we know what to expect. We can now start calmly preparing for the summer, with one positive outcome already assured – we won’t be playing any of our group matches at altitude, which was something I really wanted to avoid.(