Keisuke Honda believes Pachuca are underdogs for Club World Cup semi-final showdown against Gremio

The Mexican side, fresh from beating Wydad Casablanca, go up against the Copa Libertadores winners in Al Ain on Tuesday.

Pachuca's Keisuke Honda is enjoying his first appearance at the Fifa Club World Cup. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Pachuca's Keisuke Honda is enjoying his first appearance at the Fifa Club World Cup. Francois Nel / Getty Images

Keisuke Honda concedes his Pachuca side go into this week’s Fifa Club World Cup semi-final against Gremio as underdogs.

The Mexicans, the current Concacaf champions, set up a last-four clash against their Copa Libertadores counterparts by defeating Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca in extra-time at Zayed Sports City stadium on Saturday night.

Victor Guzman scored the game’s only goal in the 112th minute after Wydad had captain Brahim Nakach sent off 21 minutes from time. Pachuca now play Gremio on Tuesday at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

Making their fourth appearance in the Club World Cup, the storied Mexican side are attempting to become the first from their country to reach the final. Gremio represent formidable opponents, though, despite debuting at the tournament this year. They won a third Copa Libertadores crown only two weeks ago.

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For that reason, Pachuca midfielder Honda acknowledged that his team will have a tough task to emerge victorious on Tuesday.

“We need to be focused to play next game well against Gremio,” the Japanese player said.

“Of course, it will be a really difficult game. I still don’t know what they are like, because I haven't watched Gremio’s games so far. We will analyse them from now on.

“But, of course, they won the Copa Libertadores in South America, so normally they should play better than us. And that’s our challenge against them.”

Asked how much an inaugural appearance in the Club World Cup means to him, the former CSKA Moscow and AC Milan playmaker, 31, said: “This is my first tournament so I want to enjoy playing football. And I’m not young, so I want to feel good. That’s why I’m not satisfied today. I want to play better for the next game.”

Updated: December 10, 2017 01:45 PM

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