Ten Cate: Al Jazira have nothing to lose at Fifa Club World Cup against Urawa Red Diamonds
The Jazira manager put the pressure on his side's Japanese opponents ahead of Saturday's quarter-final clash.
Henk ten Cate says Al Jazira have nothing to lose in their Fifa Club World Cup clash with Asian champions Urawa Red Diamonds on Saturday as he hopes to conclude the match with the “best birthday gift ever”.
The UAE champions, the host representatives, booked their spot in the quarter-finals with victory in Wednesday’s tournament-opener against Auckland City, when Romarinho scored the only goal of the game. The New Zealanders had been the better side.
Jazira now face Urawa at Zayed Sports City with the reward a semi-final against Real Madrid, although Ten Cate reiterated that he and his players are concerned simply with getting past a talented Japanese side. Urawa won the Asian Champions League two weeks ago by defeating Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the final.
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“We face a very tough opponent,” Ten Cate said. “They’re the champions of Asia with some real quality players: a couple of Japanese internationals, a fantastic Brazilian [Rafael Silva] on the left. We’re going to face a difficult match, but after the win against Auckland my team is very confident.
“We have nothing to lose, in fact. We’re just the small champion of the UAE and we face the champions of continents. So we have nothing to lose. I think Urawa has a lot to lose, more than we do.”
Ten Cate said his players have recovered well from a hard-fought Auckland encounter, but added that the team remain without a number of key players, including striker Ahmed Khalil, midfielders Lassana Diarra and Mohammed Jamal, and experience right-back Mohammed Fawzi.
“The players who are absent, I cannot heal,” Ten Cate said. “I’m not a healer, I’m a coach. They’re still injured so we don’t play with them. But the players are in fantastic mood, they feel good. And, as I already said, we have nothing to lose. We have only to win.”
Ten Cate spoke of his “very good memories” of playing at Zayed Sports City having won the 2016 President’s Cup there with Jazira. He is hoping to create a few more on Saturday, especially given the match falls on a day with an extra significance for him personally.
“Of course, it would be the best birthday gift ever,” said the Dutchman, who will turn 63. “I am looking forward to the game. We analysed Urawa in a couple of games. It’s a very strong team, a solid team, well organised, very aggressive.
“So we’ll wait and see what is a going to happen tomorrow and for the rest. As I said, in football everything is possible. It’s just one game. Let’s wait and see.”
For Urawa, they contest the Club World Cup for the second time after competing as host representatives in 2007. Captain Yuki Abe played in that tournament, helping his side reach the semi-finals, where they were defeated 1-0 by AC Milan. Urawa eventually finished third.
“Ten years ago we were No. 3, but it was 10 years ago, a decade ago. It’s a long time,” Abe said. “Now we have a fresh chance to improve our position. Ten years ago it was in Japan; it is now away from Japan so the difference in environment is definitely there.
“In various ways it is exciting to be here in this tournament, maybe more exciting than the last time. The good part of the team is that we’re very sincerely fighting and we’re only getting better. We fought our best at the Asian Champions League and we still have the possibility of getting better.
"Tomorrow’s match is very important for us. We are representing Japan, we’re going to look at it this way, and put in all our energy and effort into the match tomorrow."
Urawa manager Takafumi Hori added: “I understand that we are taking them on in their home ground. It is a very tough situation, but we are prepared with our best. Al Jazira are a very strong team as far as I have observed and are very physically imposing. We are going to take tomorrow’s match as our main opportunity.”
Updated: December 17, 2017 06:32 PM