SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal says that while he's at the World Cup he is not thinking about his job next season. Well, not very much.
"The World Cup is a competition for nations; there are no clubs here. I am fully focused on the Dutch team and that's it," the 62-year-old Dutchman said as he prepared for Friday's match with Spain.
Van Gaal demands intense focus from his players as they ready for a tough Group B that also includes Australia and Chile. But he says they sometimes have to let their hair down.
"I gave the players Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning off because they have to think about something else," he said. "You can't only be focused on the World Cup."
That's where his new club commitments come in.
"Maybe you could describe Manchester United as a welcome distraction," he said.
Come next season, when he has to rebuild the club from its worst season in the English Premier League, Manchester United will have to be his sole focus.
— By Mike Corder — www.twitter.com/mikecorder
LOST IN TRANSLATION
SAO PAULO (AP) — In Sao Paulo, a city that sees far fewer international tourists than the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, subway passengers marveled at the new bilingual public address announcements.
One man joked of the pronunciation of the words "next station" by a voice with a Brazilian accent. It's a sign the city is adapting to the influx of visitors from abroad for the monthlong tournament.
Two young women laughed at the words, "Next station, bye bye."
— Adriana Gomez Licon — www.twitter.com/agomezlicon
RIBEIRAO PRETO (AP) — The problem with afternoon kickoffs is that players have no time to take a relaxing pre-match snooze.
France plays its first two group matches — against Honduras and Switzerland — at 4 p.m. local time, and the final group game against Ecuador an hour later.
France team physio Eric Bedouet says the training sessions are being held at 4 p.m. to get the players' bodies used to it.
"Training at 4 p.m. is very important for the matches. You have to prepare the body to withstand this hour, with practically no afternoon nap," Bedouet said Thursday. "That's also worth noting, because that's not what happened before."
The players are also battling the effects of jet lag.
"You have to recover from the journey well. That's very important. After all, we had a 15-hour flight and that affects the body a lot. There's a negative effect on the body," Bedouet said. "You have to react quickly and reactivate the machine quickly. It takes longer or shorter depending on the player. Some players don't need much recovery sleep, which is not the case for others."
France risks a rude awakening against Honduras on Sunday, a side reputed for its bruising, physical style.
— By Jerome Pugmire — http://twitter.com/jeromepugmire
SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Spain's priorities Thursday before its World Cup opener against the Netherlands were quite clear.
Train quickly because Brazil is playing shortly.
Spain, the reigning World Cup champ, practiced at Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova hoping to get out in time to watch the kickoff of Brazil's opening match against Croatia in Sao Paulo.
"We'd like to watch all the games at the World Cup," Spain captain Iker Casillas said Thursday.
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