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Sep 11, 2012

Ketsbaia ready for 'best team of all time'

Georgia manager Temuri Ketsbaia has claimed avoiding defeat against "the best team of all time" would be an achievement as his side prepare to face Spain in Tuesday night's World Cup Group I qualifier in Tbilisi.

• Casillas questions qualification rules
• Torres enjoying revival

Ketsbaia, a former Newcastle, Wolves and Dundee midfielder, established his coaching credentials by taking Anorthosis Famagusta into the group stages of the Champions League and has been the Georgia national boss since 2009.

His side kicked off their qualifying campaign in style, seeing off Belarus 1-0 in Tbilisi on Friday, but Ketsbaia knows his players face a different proposition in the world and European champions and says that, as long as his players go out and give a good account of themselves, he will have few qualms.

"Victory is always a positive result, but for us not to lose would be a satisfactory result," Ketsbaia said. "I want my players to go out onto the pitch and do their best. That is what our fans demand. If the opponent is better there is little you can do.

"It will be a difficult game, but my players are psychologically prepared and ready to play. This is a very important game for them and the whole world will be interested in this match. It is a showcase of the highest order for Georgian footballers. Spain are the best team of all time."

Ketsbaia has been forced to make one change to the side that started on Friday, due to a stomach problem, but otherwise will keep faith in the team that secured all three points.

"The same team will play from the game against Belarus, with one exception," he said. "(Spartak Moscow midfielder Jano) Ananidze has constipation."

The trip to Tbilisi marks the start of Spain's World Cup qualifying campaign, after a 5-0 friendly win over Saudi Arabia on Friday, and boss Vincente Del Bosque wants to pick up a win before remaining unbeaten for the rest of the campaign.

"To be in Brazil we need to begin by beating Georgia," Del Bosque, who has a 100% record in qualifying games since taking over in 2008, said. "Since I have been coach we have played two qualifying campaigns, 18 games in total, and we have won the 18. The challenge is to continue like that."

Del Bosque did not name his starting XI but suggested that one of the traditional forwards in his squad - Fernando Torres, David Villa or Roberto Soldado - would start the game.

"Spain always plays with forwards, and with many forwards," he said. "If the question is whether in Georgia we will use a classic No. 9, the answer is yes. But we are open to all systems, to adapt our tactical shape to the players we have."

Del Bosque also suggested that the older members of his squad - such as 32-year-old Xavi Hernandez - would still be able to play a role at the tournament in Brazil, if they qualify.

"First we have to qualify, and we have a difficult group," he added. "We have a stable squad, and all can still be around in two years in Brazil. Competition for places and form will be considered in the future but, speaking now, they could all be there."

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