England manager Roy Hodgson borrowed a line from the hit movie Forrest Gump on Monday when he described this week’s FIFA 2014 World Cup draw as “like a box of chocolates.”
Hodgson was to fly to Brazil yesterday to attend Friday’s ceremony, when his team will discover who they face in next year’s finals.
England are not one of the top seeds and could find themselves in the same group as hosts Brazil, world champions Spain or archrivals Germany.
“We will hope for the best, but it is like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates,” Hodgson said at a news conference, without a hint of irony. “We will open it up and see what we get, then try and digest it.”
While England fans will chew over the opposition, Hodgson said he was equally concerned with where his side would play in the vast South American country.
The southern cities like Sao Paulo will be relatively mild in the Brazilian winter, but matches in northern venues such as Recife, Fortaleza or the jungle city of Manaus will be hot and humid, condition which could favor some Latin American and African sides.
“I think the draw comes at a time when speculation is rife and people have a lot of fun looking at the potential possibilities,” said Hodgson, 66.
“It is a nice game to play, but I have got to say that I have not involved myself too much in that. We will get what we get really — the most important thing is to be there,” he added. “You always hope the draw is going to be kind to you in terms of where you are going to play.”
“There are venues in Brazil that will be harder to play in than others. Maybe in terms of the teams you are drawn against, some on paper look harder than others, but I’m more concerned, if anything, by the venues than by the teams we draw,” the England boss said. “You have a bit better chance if you get one of the venues where the climate is kinder.”
“The tropicality of Manaus is the problem. I’m not an expert on the venue so I don’t want to go too deep into it, but I’m just mouthing what everybody who has been following it has been saying. Manaus is the place ideally to avoid and Porto Alegre is the place ideally to get,” Hodgson said, referring to city in the far south of Brazil where the temperature is cooler in winter.
Hodgson, whose side lost two consecutive home friendlies against Chile and Germany last month, said being drawn against Lionel Messi’s Argentina would not necessarily be a bad thing.
“We don’t know how good Argentina are — we would all think: ‘Blimey, Argentina are strong,’ but we don’t know that,” said Hodgson, who coached Switzerland at the 1994 World Cup. “They might be no stronger than Chile. The good thing is that if we get Argentina, for example, we will be there and have a chance to play them and believe we can go out and beat them.”
Asked about England star Wayne Rooney, who is in scintillating form with Manchester United, Hodgson added that he wished he could “bottle him up and keep him on a shelf until next May or June, but that is not possible so we just have to hope he is in the same form for the finals — and that would make a major weapon in our armory.”
Rooney, 28, who has netted 12 goals this season, has yet to shine at a World Cup. He appeared unfit after injury at the 2006 finals in Germany, where he was sent off during a controversial quarter-final defeat by Portugal and endured another dismal tournament as England made a second-round exit in South Africa in 2010.