TOKYO: Egyptian club Al Ahly s coach Friday angrily accused Mexican side Pachuca of spying on a team training session ahead of their crucial Club World Cup clash.
Three spies from Pachuka came to inspect our practice today. It s not fair. We didn t watch their practice. It s not fair, said coach Manuel Jose after their training session on Friday.
Tomorrow s game is the same as the final for either Al Ahly and Pachuca. The losers will go to a playoff for fifth and sixth places. It s a very important game, Jose said.
For the European and South American clubs, they just go to a third-place playoff even if they lose. They can reach the final by winning only one game. Anyway, we just go into the match thinking it s the final.
Al Ahly, Egypt s most crowned side and one of the world s best supported clubs, are aiming to do better than 2006 when they finished third beating CF America 2-1 in a playoff.
America were also a good team, but their style is different from Pachuca. Fortunately, we won that game. We played better then. Our opponents are different tomorrow, said Jose.
Pachuca change their tactics quite often and they also want to have a better result than they did last year, but I think we are more comfortable, because we know each other very well and we have the same 3-5-2 formation.
But the feeling for both of us is the same as both teams are eager to win tomorrow, he added.
Pachuca, reputed for their attacking football, went home gutted after squandering many chances in a 1-0 loss to Tunisia s Etoile Sahel in their Club World Cup debut last year.
Honestly, we feel we lost for no reasons last year, Pachuca coach Enrique Meza said ahead of his squad s opening match in the seven-way tournament of continental champions.
We aim to take the first match this year, as a matter of course, and go still higher – up to the top spot.
We make efforts to win the first match, first of all, in our bid to make history, said Jose.
The winners between Pachuca and Al Ahly will face South American champions Liga de Quito of Ecuador in the semi-finals while heavily favored Manchester United are seeded in the other half of the draw.
We believe in revenge, said Pachuca s Argentine striker Bruno Marioni.
We are thinking about playing in a final against Manchester United, the former Boca Juniors player added. For now, we will fight this match in front of us as if it was a final.
Pachuca captain and goalkeeper Miguel Calero, a Colombian, added: I pray we play well to reach the final and, if possible, go home with the important title.
Ah Ahly, named the club of the 20th century by the African continental federation, said they were ready for another piece of history in a record third Cup appearance after they competed in 2005 and 2006.
Meza cited many records set by Al Ahly, including 72 titles at home and 21 titles in Africa. Now here we are in Japan. We want to come home with a record-setting result.
Veteran defender Wael Gomaa, in his third Cup, said: We definitely want to fight all out again and play at a high level. We want to produce a better result than last time.
The Club World Cup, first organized in its current form in 2005, is an extension of the Intercontinental Cup contested by European and South American champion clubs. The other continents, however, have been also-rans so far.
The Pachuca coach warned his squad would use every bit of the pitch in attacking.
We are excellent technically and handle the ball well. We are good at creating chances and putting them away, he said.
But Meza said Al Ahly were also excellent on the ball.
They are good at upsetting the balance and strong in the air, he said.
Pachuca have had plenty of time to acclimatize, arriving here eight days before their opening game.
Al Ahly coach Jose was aware that Pachuca would come out more determined that last year.
He said he had closely studied the Mexican club through DVDs.
We have grasped their characteristics, analyzed what could be threatening to us and worked out countermeasures. -AFP