Proud Henk ten Cate believes Al Jazira have done UAE proud by reaching Club World Cup semi-final
The Dutchman's side now go up against Real Madrid in the semi-final of the competition on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.
Henk ten Cate said the UAE should be proud of Al Jazira after his side secured an historic Fifa Club World Cup semi-final encounter against Real Madrid.
The Abu Dhabi side, competing in the tournament as host representatives, defeated Asian champions Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0 at Zayed Sports City stadium on Saturday night.
In doing so, Jazira became the first UAE club to reach the last four of the Club World Cup and will now face defending champions, and reigning European champions, Madrid in the capital on Wednesday for a place in the final.
It represents another achievement for Ten Cate since he joined Jazira almost two years ago.
In that time, the Dutchman has led his team to the 2016 President’s Cup trophy and the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League title - only the second top-flight crown in Jazira’s history.
After Urawa, he can now add making the Club World Cup semi-final to an already-impressive roll of honours.
“We won the President’s Cup together, we won the championship here and to be honest now we didn’t win anything,” Ten Cate said post-match on Saturday.
“The only thing we won was probably the love of football fans in the UAE, because as you know it’s not only playing for your club, it’s also playing for Abu Dhabi and for the UAE.
“There’s only one thing to say: everybody in this country should be proud of this group of players. Because I think they’ve made the country proud.”
Jazira deserved to defeat Urawa on Saturday, a victory made all the more sweet given the squad were competing without key players and that the line-up contained a number of relatively inexperienced youngsters.
Mohammed Al Attas, the versatile 20-year-old, was one of the standouts in midfield.
However, Ten Cate insisted Jazira’s triumph was built upon the collective.
“It’s not a secret,” he said. “This is a team who fought in the two years ago since I arrived. And it’s a team. I said lots of times already: we might not have the best players. But in team spirit, I have the best team.
"They fight for each other, they challenge and they have a big heart. This is how we play, with a big heart.
“We are a team that is very difficult to beat and we will fight until the last minute - this is what we saw today as well. If you look at possession, of course Urawa had more. They found each other and had some chances.
“But again it was proven that a good spirit and a fighting sprit and the willpower to do something good can bring you very far. And I’m proud of them.”
The win would have tasted extra special for Ten Cate, who celebrated his 63rd birthday on Saturday. Yet he preferred to let his players bask in their victory, instead on shifting attention to that marquee match-up with Madrid.
“Of course we’re very happy with this,” he said. “But the consequences of the victory I don’t know. You are from here so you can tell me better than I can. For the rest, I have nothing to say.
“I don’t want to talk about the next opponent. I will talk about only our achievement today. The players deserve some good press for their performance today. I don’t want to talk about Real Madrid.
"I want to talk about the game against Urawa and the performance of my players. And after that I will go home, my family is home, and we will go and celebrate my birthday.”
Published: December 10, 2017 12:40 PM