War of words

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Austrian head coach Paul Gludovatz never said his team was going to beat Congo 5-0 tonight at Commonwealth Stadium.

But Congolese head coach Eddie Hudanski and the rest of his team think he did.

That's all that matters heading into tonight's Under-20 World Cup encounter between the two teams (5:45 p.m.) at Commonwealth Stadium.

"We are the underdogs heading into this game," Gludovatz said yesterday.

"They are a team that is superior to us on paper. Plus they said in today's newspaper that they would beat us 5-0, so they are very confident."

Gludovatz was actually making reference to Austria's 5-0 loss against Spain at the European championships last summer and did not say his team would win by that score tonight. But along the way something was lost in translation.

The Austrian head coach would never underestimate Congo even if it's their first trip to the Under-20 World Cup. And he could do nothing more that shrug his shoulders at the fact his French counterpart misread a quote.

"Mentally we are well prepared," said Gludovatz through an interpreter.

"Physically we are not sure what our level is compared to the other teams because we only had one international friendly in our preparation phase which was against Scotland.

CONTINENTAL CHAMPS

"We also don't have experience against African nations because we always play against European teams."

Congo is coming into the tournament as continental champions and are one of four African teams taking part in the Under-20 World Cup.

Unlike their teams at the senior level, African squads have fared extremely well at world youth tournaments. On four occasions an African team has played in the final of this tournament.

"That gives us some confidence going into this tournament," said Congolese midfielder Cecil Filanckembo. "We will do our best to try and keep that tradition. But as our coach says, it's nice to play in a final, but it's much nicer to win the final.

"But we're a small team, so I don't think there is not a lot of pressure on us. It is our first championships."

Both teams are in a group with Canada and Chile which played their first game yesterday in Toronto. A win by either team today would put them atop the group with Chile who defeated the host 3-0 last night.

"This is an important match because it's our first match," Hudanski said.

"And the first match goes a long way in determining whether we will advance in this tournament. Trying to get a win in this match would be very important because it would give you three points and it would put some distance between our team and our opponents."

Both sides had plenty of time to acclimatize themselves to the city. They both arrived earlier this week and have had numerous practices leading up to this game.

Following tonight's opener, Austria will face Canada and Congo will entertain Chile in a double-header at Commonwealth Stadium on Thursday.

"I think we are well prepared for this tournament in general and well prepared for Congo," said Austrian midfielder Michael Stanislaw. "The mood in the team is very good. I'm excited about the atmosphere (today) because we expect a lot of people to come out to the game."

LAST TO GET STARTED

Congo and Austria are actually the final two teams to get going in the tournament. The other teams in the 24-team tournament will have already played one game before the two teams kick off in Edmonton.

"It's good to have already seen other teams and how they play and the pace of the games," Stanislaw said. "It's also good to see that surprises can happen in the tournament like Poland beating Brazil."


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