Football

Go for the kill

Klinsmann wants Stars and Stripes to shed underdogs' tag

QUARTER-FINAL

UNITED STATES v ECUADOR

(Today, 9.25am, Singtel TV Ch 141 & 
StarHub TV Ch 213)

United States coach Juergen Klinsmann has urged his side to shake off their underdog mentality in the Copa America quarter-final against Ecuador in Seattle this morning (Singapore time).

Klinsmann's side finished as surprise Group A winners on goal difference ahead of Colombia, against whom they lost 2-0 in their opening match before bouncing back to beat Costa Rica 4-0 and Paraguay 1-0.

The Stars and Stripes can count on the raucous support of the majority of fans at Seattle Sounders' CenturyLink Field against Ecuador, who drew 0-0 and 2-2 against Brazil and Peru respectively before thrashing Haiti 4-0 to finish second in Group B.

At the 2014 World Cup Finals in Rio, Klinsmann watched his side extend Belgium before bowing out 2-1 after extra time in the first knock-out stage and the German wants his players to adopt a different mindset against Ecuador.

LEARNING CURVE

"The whole old story is the underdog story and I cannot hear that story any more," Klinsmann told ESPN.

"I want to see them risk things. Let's go for it. Because if you're not going for it, sooner or later they're going to break you down because they have class players who will give you one or two (goals).

"That's the learning curve."

The US beat Ecuador 1-0 in a warm-up friendly in Frisco, Texas, at the end of last month thanks to Darlington Nagbe's 90th-minute volley and will attain Klinsmann's pre-tournament target of reaching the semi-finals with victory.

"This is all about the moment and this is what they need to believe in. Whoever is on the other side, 'I'm ready for you'."

Ecuador's Dallas FC midfielder Carlos Gruezo is expecting a tough test.

"Against the United States, it will be a very difficult match," he told mlssoccer.com.

"We all know what happened to us when we played against them in Dallas. You have to be mentally prepared and not allow mistakes."

But coach Gustavo Quinteros was in confident mood following his side's comprehensive defeat of Haiti.

"On whatever day we can play up to our potential, it doesn't matter who we have on the pitch because we really trust in our team," Quinteros said.

"If in 90 minutes we play to our full potential, we will be most dangerous for anyone we face."

Meanwhile, Corinthians boss Tite was named as the new coach of Brazil yesterday morning, succeeding Dunga, who was sacked after the team's humiliating exit from the Copa America, his club revealed.

But the task of turning around a lacklustre Brazil in time for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August will fall to current Under-20 coach Micale, said the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

Brazil are battling to find their form in time to host the Olympics, where they have never won gold, and to save their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup.

But Dunga, the man appointed to turn things round after the embarrassment of the team's 7-1 World Cup semi-final thrashing by Germany on home soil in 2014, failed to deliver results fast enough.

Tite - whose real name is Adenor Leonardo Bacchi - had been widely touted as his successor after the CBF sacked Dunga and his entire staff on Tuesday, and Corinthians president Roberto de Andrade confirmed the move.

"Tite no longer works at Corinthians. He accepted the CBF's invitation," he said.

The Brazilian Football Confederation has not confirmed the appointment, but officials there met with Tite on Tuesday.

Tite, 55, has coached a string of top clubs in Brazil, including Gremio, Atletico Mineiro and Palmeiras, as well as Al Ain and Al Wahda in the United Arab Emirates.

He has spent three trophy-studded stints at Corinthians, leading the Sao Paulo club to two Brazilian league titles, in 2011 and 2015, and the Copa Sudamericana in 2013.

In 2012, he coached them to a double championship of the regional Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup. - Wire Services.

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