Chile halt training after "spy" helicopter flies over
Coach Sampaoli stops training when Brazilian news helicopter flies over team's base
ROUND OF 16
BRAZIL v CHILE
(Tonight, 11.59pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)
Hints of espionage played out in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, yesterday, as Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli promptly suspended their training session when a Brazilian TV station's helicopter flew over.
Sampaoli, whose side face Brazil in a last-16 clash tonight, was worried that his team were being spied upon and his secret tactics to upsetting the hosts might be revealed.
The team's communications director Hector Olave said he asked the news agency Globo not to broadcast any of the footage and the private broadcaster later apologised for the incident at Cruzeiro's Toca da Raposa II facility.
Sampaoli said he was working on tactics at that point and didn't want the hot favourites to know what he has in store for them at the Mineirao Stadium.
Training resumed after the helicopter left. It caused the session to overrun by 50 minutes.
Chile defender Mauricio Isla said in jest that the players took shots at the intruder.
"It didn't bother us, but our coach was worried that they might see our moves and how we are preparing for the match," said Isla, who plays for Juventus.
"We tried to hit it with the ball, but we couldn't."
Former Brazil striker Ronaldo said Chile are the team that should be worried about tonight's match, saying "they are infinitely more concerned than we Brazilians".
However, Chile are the team that Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari fears.
Scolari said after the World Cup draw six months ago that his biggest concern was facing Chile, and not Spain, who have already been knocked out, or Holland, whom they will now meet only if both sides reach the final.
At the time, Scolari said he hoped Chile wouldn't qualify for the second round.
Chile beat Australia 3-1 and Spain 2-0, and lost to Holland 2-0 to finish second in Group B.
Chile's players are focused on how to knock the hosts out of the tournament.
"We came to make history," forward Alexis Sanchez said.
"We beat the world champions (Spain). We tripped up against Holland, but we saw the errors we made.
"We gave them opportunities and they took advantage of them. That's the error we won't make against Brazil."
Sanchez said the team are inspired by the attitude and work ethic of players like midfield maestro Arturo Vidal, who was rested in the defeat by Holland.
"Chileans sometimes don't have this winning mentality," he said.
"We need to have this mentality, believe in what we're doing."
Chile's 2-0 victory over Spain in the group stage was an important step, he said.
"Not all of us can be friends, but on the pitch we support one another," he said.
"We have to play with heart."
- Wire Services.
Brazil hit back at Chile's referee concerns
Brazil have lashed out at Chile for questioning the integrity of English referee Howard Webb, branding doubts aired by their last-16 opponents as "primitive and immature".
Webb (above), who took charge of the 2010 World Cup final, will be the man in the middle in Belo Horizonte tonight, when Brazil face Chile in the second round.
But Webb's appointment has been questioned by Chile star Alexis Sanchez and the head of the Chile Football Association, who fear he may be influenced by the huge home support.
"The only thing I fear is the refereeing," said Sanchez on Thursday, when asked about the prospect of facing the tournament hosts.
However, when Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was asked to offer his thoughts during yesterday's eve-of-game press conference, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) press officer Rodrigo Paiva intervened.
"To talk about this subject is primitive and immature. Applying this kind of pressure is ridiculous," he said.
"Not only is it disrespectful towards Fifa, the referee and the Brazil team with their 100-year history of winning, but it is also disrespectful towards the people of Brazil.
"Brazil do not need the referee in order to win titles.
"The Brazilian team and people deserve more respect."
Concerns that World Cup referees might favour the host country were first raised, when Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura awarded Brazil a dubious penalty that helped them to a 3-1 win over Croatia in the competition's opening game.
Webb was also in charge when Brazil beat Chile 3-0 at the same stage of the tournament in 2010. - AFP.