Zoran Mamic: Al Ain must dare to dream to conquer Real Madrid in Fifa Club World Cup final

The Croatian wants his side to leave everything on the pitch at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and have no regrets against the European champions

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Al Ain manager Zoran Mamic says the UAE champions have to dare to dream that they can upset the “biggest club in the world” when they meet Real Madrid in the Fifa Club World Cup final on Saturday.

The Emirati champions, making their tournament debut, take on a Madrid side in Abu Dhabi aiming to win the trophy for the third successive year. Twelve months ago, the Spanish giants survived a scare against UAE side Al Jazira in the last four before clinching the title against Gremio.

Al Ain go into the match at Zayed Sports City Stadium as huge underdogs, although they will take heart from their run to the showpiece.

Along the way, they have defeated African champions Esperance de Tunis and South American champions River Plate.

“What can I say?’ Mamic said on Friday. “Real Madrid is the biggest team in the world. It’s when you compare small Smart car with a big Mercedes, maybe one time the Smart car will win if the Mercedes machine breaks. I hope this one time can happen also for us.


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“Of course, we will try to do everything. We’ve come to the final, we’ve played good football and we deserve to be here. We didn’t arrive in the final only with luck. We want to make a good match.

"It won’t be easy: it’s the fourth match in short time and the team is very, very tired. But for tomorrow all of us will be ready. We have big motivation to represent the club and the country in a good way, and to make it difficult for Real Madrid.”

Mamic rejected suggestions Al Ain could use the fact Madrid are overwhelming favourites to their advantage. However, he said the 13-time European champions – the Bernabeu club have won the Uefa Champions League four of the past five years – would not take lightly his side, the UAE’s most decorated club with 13 league titles.

“I don’t think Real Madrid will think it will be an easy match,” the Croat said. “Because in the past last few years and in all history Real Madrid shows that in the final they always play at the highest level.

"They have the chance to win another trophy and they will do everything and they will play seriously, I’m sure.

“I don’t see this as an advantage that everybody talk about Real Madrid. We have to be on the highest possible level, we have to be very lucky, we have to have a great goalkeeper, we have to have maybe the guy who works on the pitch to make our goal a little bit smaller. This is how we can make a good result.”

The Madrid match represents Al Ain’s sixth match in 19 days, and fourth since their Club World Cup opener against New Zealand’s Team Wellington on December 12. Twice, Mamic’s men have been pushed to penalites, meaning they come into the final having already played 330 minutes in the tournament.

Madrid, meanwhile, entered at the semi-final on Wednesday, where they defeated Asian champions Kashima Antlers 3-1.

“It’s very hard, very difficult, but we have to go in this match like the first matches,” Mamic said. “We are tired, but the motivation is very, very high and I’m sure the players will give everything. We used these three days to totally recover, to make the team fresh. And I’m sure they will present good football tomorrow.

“In every sport, also in football, every sportsman goes into every game to win, even if you play against Real Madrid. You have a dream; you think maybe you have luck, you have a very good day, Real Madrid miss some chances.

“When you remember last year in the match against Jazira, the first-half Real had 10 great chances, they didn’t score, the goalkeeper made an amazing job, Jazira score and then with the help of the [Video Assistant Referee] it was not 2-0 and very hard for Real.

“Everything is possible. We have to believe, we have to try. After the game if we can look in the mirror and say ‘OK, we gave everything, but Real was better’, then we say 'bravo' to Real and we continue with our other competitions.”

Asked about going up against compatriot and former teammate Luka Modric, the recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner, in the final, Mamic said: “I'm sure I will meet Luka now after the press conference and I will talk to him. This year he’s won many, many trophies. Maybe it’s time to leave one for us.”