Can USA win it? Yes we can, says Klinsmann
Sao Paulo: USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Friday urged his players to believe they could win the World Cup -- and told his squad to book flights home for the day after the July 13 final.
Klinsmann was criticised by sections of the US media on the eve of the finals for stating that the Americans were not realistic contenders for the trophy.
But after battling through Group G ahead Portugal and Ghana into the knockout rounds, the German World Cup winner is instilling a positive mindset.
The United States face Belgium in Salvador next Tuesday where the prize will be a place in the quarter-finals.
Klinsmann said his team plan on staying longer in Brazil.
"I think if everybody goes to his own personal limit in the context of the team, we`re going to go further in this tournament," Klinsmann told reporters.
"But you`ve got to realise that moment. So I asked everybody, all the players to make sure that all their flights are booked after July 13.
"That`s just how you have to approach a World Cup, no matter what happens now. You can always change your flights, so start with the end in mind. The end is July 13."
Klinsmann admitted USA lacked the consistency to compete at the top level year-round. But he said in a knock-out competition, they had a chance.
"Every single day we`re going to have on the knock-out stage, can we do it? Yes we can," he said.
"This is now one of the benchmarks. We want to be one day in the top 10, top 12 of the world. So if we want to be there, this is now the moment," Klinsman added.
The German has instilled a fierce spirit which helped USA beat Ghana 2-1 and took them to within seconds of a shock victory over Portugal, before they conceded a late equaliser.
Klinsmann, a veteran of penalty shootouts including semi-final wins over England at the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1996, said his team had already been practising spot-kicks for weeks.
"It`s just part of normal preparation. You have to be prepared for things. You prepare set-pieces, you prepare penalties," he said.
"You tell the players how to approach a penalty. It`s a mental moment. If you`re not prepared for that mental moment, to walk from the halfway line in front of 60,000 to the penalty spot and get the job done, I think it`s wrong.
"You just have to walk them through that process and now in every training we will practise penalties. Hopefully they`re ready and they`re calm enough to put it in their favourite corner."