Klinsmann remains certain U.S. will qualify for Russia

Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:20am EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - United States coach Juergen Klinsmann remains "1,000 percent sure" his side will qualify for the 2018 World Cup despite a 4-0 rout at Costa Rica last week.

He even has the support of President Barack Obama, the coach told a gala dinner in Berlin.

In an interview with Reuters, Klinsmann said he was disappointed "and even angry" that his team had lost their first two World Cup qualifiers in the space of five days, having let in a late goal against the run of play to lose 2-1 at home to Mexico.

But he added that the team had played well at times during 2016 and would bounce back and win at least 15 points from the 24 available in the next eight qualifying games, which should enable the U.S. to qualify from the CONCACAF region.

The top three of the six teams go through, with the fourth-placed country going into a playoff against a team from Asia. The U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago are both pointless after two games.

"It’s important to put this in the right perspective," he said. "We lost the two opening games and played the two best teams right away. We have eight more games to get the points needed to qualify. We’ve always reacted strongly when things were nerve-wracking.

"This team is always capable of reacting. We’ll correct this with the two games in March (against Honduras and Panama) and we’ll take one game at a time from there to get our points. I’m 1,000 percent sure we’ll qualify."

Klinsmann said he was aware of the criticism in the media and calls for his dismissal after five years in the job, but he will not jettison his plan to patiently develop a team that would peak at the right time at Russia 2018.   Continued...

Football Soccer - U.S. training session - World Cup 2018 qualifier - Guatemala City, Guatemala, 24/3/16. U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann attends a training session ahead of their 2018 World Cup qualifier soccer match against Guatemala. REUTERS/Saul Martinez/Files