Football

Chile refuse to train on match pitch

Chile refuse to train on Sao Paulo ground which Sampaoli describes as 'in totally bad state'

Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli hit out at the state of the World Cup pitch in Sao Paulo this morning (Singapore time), ahead of their Group B decider against Holland tonight.

Sampaoli said that the Corinthians Arena pitch was "totally in a bad state", after his team preferred to hold their final pre-match training session at the Palmeiras training centre in Sao Paulo.

"We normally don't train in the match stadium, we prefer to be closer to our quarters. And the pitch is totally in a bad state, so we don't want to destroy it more," he told reporters.

"We don't want it to be damaged any more because tomorrow, we have a decisive game in the stadium that doesn't have a pitch that lives up to expectations."

On inspection, the pitch looked worn, especially around the goalmouth.

There were also bare patches of earth along the sidelines.

The newly-built stadium, which is still unfinished, has hosted only two matches and is scheduled to hold another four, including Chile's game tonight and a semi-final.

Meanwhile, Sampaoli said that he's ready to risk suspension for star midfielder Arturo Vidal as the South Americans eye a win over Holland to avoid a likely Round-of-16 clash with Brazil.

VITAL

The coach said it was vital for already-qualified Chile to top their pool and stay away from Brazil, who are favourites to win Group A and play the second-placed team in Group B.

Juventus' Vidal has recovered from an injury - picked up during the 2-0 win over Spain - but he is carrying a yellow card, meaning another caution tonight would rule him out for the Round of 16.

But Sampaoli indicated that Chile would throw caution to the wind as they face the free-scoring Dutch, who hammered 2010 champions Spain 5-1 and overcame Australia 3-2.

"There is a context which is real, which is protecting a player and that's respectable," Sampaoli said.

"But we need to win the group because that will give us a way of looking to the future in a different manner."

Vidal said confidence is sky-high in the Chile camp after their 3-1 win over Australia, followed by the shock 2-0 victory over Spain.

"If we play the same as we played against Spain, we can make it all the way to the final. But, of course, we have to prove it and we have to live up to our own expectations," he said.

"This is the best generation of Chilean football in our history.

"We have a lot of players who are playing outside Chile and, when we come together, we are playing stronger than anything we have seen before in Chile."- AFP.

World Cup