German legend Jurgen Klinsmann said on Saturday that the underdog could go far in what he predicts will be a “world champion with surprises” in Qatar.
The hosts play Ecuador in Sunday’s first leg of the first World Cup, which takes place in winter in the northern hemisphere.
The change from the usual June-July period means this World Cup is in the middle of the club season in Europe, where most of the top players are based. In addition, this is only the second World Cup in Asia.
“I think it could be a World Cup full of surprises because if anyone is an underdog – maybe if it’s an African nation, if it’s an Asian team – if they are brave, I think you can go far in this tournament. , Klinsmann said at a press conference in Doha.
“This is not a tournament where you can sit back and defend. I think it’s a tournament that really invites you to go and be brave and go forward.”
“I don’t think you’ll get very far if you’re only defensive in this tournament,” Klinsmann added.
The 58-year-old former striker now played for the West German national team that won the World Cup in 1990 and then coached Germany in 2006 and finished third as hosts.
Having also captained the US team in Brazil in 2014, he returned to the World Cup as a member of the FIFA Technical Research Team, analyzing tournament matches.
The group is overseen by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
The World Cup kicks off just a week after the last matches in Europe’s top leagues have been played, leaving national teams little time to prepare.
This has led to increased injury worries, but Klinsmann said he doesn’t necessarily see the lack of preparation time as a problem, opining that the players are “fresh and hungry”.
“I believe that we will see a tournament of very, very high quality, because the players did not need additional preparation, as is usually the case before the World Cup,” he said.