The ball was tricky, but the gloves were excellent
So Asmir, how did you find wearing the Silhouette Elite Competition gloves in Brazil?
The glove was excellent, which was vital given the different conditions we had to contend with in our group games. In Rio for our opener against Argentina it was dry, then we played Nigeria in Cuiaba, which was humid with a lot of moisture and dew on the grass, while our final game against Iran in Salvador saw plenty of rain. The glove performed excellently in each of these differing conditions, which speaks volumes for the quality and versatility of the glove.
How did you find the World Cup ball? Was it difficult to handle compared to the ball you’re used to in the Premier League?
It was tricky; the ball has obviously been designed to help the strikers score more goals, and it did move when players hit it from distance, which is why you’ve seen more unorthodox saves than usual. It’s all about adjusting accordingly; we first got to use the ball in a friendly in March, then we obviously used the ball in our four weeks at training camp leading up to the tournament. The biggest problem was the conditions, with the ball moving differently in the Amazon conditions of Cuiaba than it did in Rio.
You spend a lot of time in hotels so what did you do to stop boredom setting in?
To be honest I found that the time flew by, given the buzz for the tournament. We spent our spare time watching the other matches on TV at the hotel, we also played cards and we had a games room, where the lads could play on the PlayStation. It was also important to get as much rest as we could because we had three games in the space of 10 days.
As you mentioned, there’s been a real buzz around this World Cup, given it’s in Brazil. Did you feel it as players or did you feel cocooned from it all?
To a certain extent you are cocooned because you are in your training base and away from a lot of things going on, but our camp was in Guaruja, outside of Sao Paulo, and you did get the World Cup vibe from the fans turning up to watch our training sessions, and the number of people watching the games in the bars and on the beach. It was cool to be a part of that, a really nice feeling.
You said that Messi was the difference in the opening-game defeat against Argentina. How good was he?
People said he was quiet in certain parts of the game, but he was the one player who made things happen. He just has a presence about him and on the one occasion when we didn’t get to him as quickly as we should have done, he made us pay. But to play our first ever World Cup game, against a team like Argentina, in the Maracana, was just magical and we could hold our heads high, having lost 2-1. When you look at Argentina, and many of the top sides, they all have players with big-game experience – be it the major tournaments, or the Champions League – so they have the know-how to win these high-pressure situations. In that respect, it was a great learning experience for many of our players.
Defeat in your second game against Nigeria ended hopes of going through, so how important was it for you as players, and for the country, to end with a win against Iran?
It was very, very important. The Nigeria result was very disappointing, especially as it knocked us out of the tournament, so to make sure we returned home with our first ever World Cup win and make the people proud, was all the motivation we needed. We’d received plenty of messages and pictures from back home, and there were thousands watching the games in the fan zones, so we knew what a win would mean to them. It was therefore great to put a smile on their faces and while we came home at the group stages, we learnt a great deal from the competition, which we can take into the Euros and beyond…
Finally, who do you think will win the World Cup?
I said before the tournament that a team from South America will win it, and although I think Germany or Holland will be in the shake-up, it’s all set up for a Brazil v Argentina final, so it’s either of those sides for me.