Veron: Big-match pressure not a burden

ABU DHABI - The pressure a football player feels before a big match is nothing compared to the pressure felt by a low-paid worker worrying about where the next meal will come from, Juan Sebastian Veron said on Monday.

"There is no better pressure than this," the Estudiantes captain said ahead of his side's Club World Cup semi-final against Asian champions Pohang Steelers on Tuesday.

"Pressure is that felt by a bricklayer who gets up every morning at five (to go to work) and doesn't know if he'll get to the end of the month (with his earnings)," Veron told a news conference at the match venue, the Mohammed bin Zayed stadium.

The South American champions are favourites to progress to the final against the winners of Wednesday's semi-final between Barcelona and Atlante of Mexico.

Veron said it was important not to take a win for granted. "Football always keeps surprises in store. The same dream we have of reaching the final, they feel the same on the other side."

Veron said he was as hungry as ever for victories and trophies in a career in which he has won league crowns in Argentina, Italy and England and led Estudiantes to their fourth Libertadores Cup in July.

"I have the head of a man of 34 and the strength of a 20-year-old. Today I feel that way, with the same will following the same steps as my father," said Veron, whose father Juan Ramon helped Estudiantes to win the world crown, the old Intercontinental Cup, with a two-leg victory over Manchester United in 1968.

"There is no best moment (to do things) and this is my moment and I'm enjoying it as if I were 20."

Veron said the team had not made any special preparations to face South Korea's Pohang.

"We don't prepare specially for certain types of competitions. We simply maintain a style whoever our rivals might be. We have a respect and a faith in our game."

He said Pohang had a typically Asian game which had progressed in recent years due to increasing numbers of Korean and Japanese players moving to the big leagues in Europe.

"With Koreans emigrating to major clubs, that strengthens the national team," added Veron whose Argentina side will meet South Korea in their group at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

"(The Steelers) are a team with a very marked style and whoever plays best (on Tuesday) will win."