Caio revels in Al Ain's Fifa Club World Cup run as excitement builds for semi-final showdown with River Plate

Brazilian winger is confident the UAE champions can spring a surprise against the newly-crowned Copa Libertadores holders on Tuesday

Soccer Football - Club World Cup - Quarter Final - Esperance Sportive de Tunis v Al Ain - Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates - December 15, 2018  Al-Ain's Caio celebrates after the match       REUTERS/Andrew Boyers
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Caio struggled to convey his delight.

Al Ain’s Brazilian winger had just helped his side secure a spot in the Fifa Club World Cup semi-finals, and a match-up against Argentine giants River Plate on Tuesday night.

Al Ain had dispatched Esperance de Tunis, Africa's Champions League winners, at a thronged Hazza bin Zayed Stadium – Al Ain's Hazza bin Zayed Stadium – triumphing 3-0 and proving the UAE champions deserved to represent the host country on the global stage.

The slog against semi-professional Team Wellington, three days earlier but what felt an eternity away in terms of performance, had been consigned to history. Now Al Ain had a chance to create some of their own.

“I can’t explain it to you,” Caio said, head shaking and smile wide, when asked what it meant to him to have made it into the Club World Cup's last four.

“Somebody could not imagine how much we feel good, how much we are happy, because it’s our home and we win two games.


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"We’re very excited to play the next game against River Plate and we’ll do our best to win again. If we do our best it will be a great game.”

Playing up front instead of out wide, Caio did not score against Esperance. But he was integral to Al Ain’s dominance. The hosts opened the scoring in the second minute then never relented.

Caio joined Al Ain two years ago but, by his own admission, this was the club’s finest display in that time.

“For me, yes,” he said. “Because it’s a big tournament, it’s a big game and we showed the people who Al Ain are. We know we have to work hard and come on to the pitch with 200 per cent. If we are concentrated and do our best, for sure, we can always make a great game.”

Next up are River Plate, winners of the Copa Libertadores less than 10 days ago. Again, Caio smiles at the thought. Having come through the youth ranks at Sao Paulo, he understands better than most at his club the challenge that awaits them.

"River Plate are a very strong team with great potential, so we must be wary of them,” Caio said. “I know a lot about them because I follow them. I saw the [Libertadores] semi-final and the final.

“We have to make a bigger effort this time around if we want to achieve a positive result. I will do my best. It’s a very good game, a very difficult game. But, like always, in 90 minutes we must do our best. And who plays better will qualify.”