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Pachuca’s Alonso has unfinished business

Uruguayan missed out on competing at the Fifa Club World Cup three times as a player

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Pachuca coach Diego Alonso is determined to have a decent crack at the Fifa Club World Cup this month being denied a trip to the tournament three times as a player.

The Uruguayan former attacker lost the finals of the Uefa Champions League with Valencia in 2001, the Concacaf Champions’ Cup with the Pumas in 2005 and the Copa Libertadores with Penarol in 2011.

But now from the sidelines he’s finally arrived thanks to his sides’ Concacaf Champions League win.

“I had unfinished business [with the Club World Cup],” he said.

Mexican side Pachuca now play Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca in Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium on December 9 with the winner going on to meet Gremio in December 12’s semi-final in Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium. A possible final then awaits in Abu Dhabi on December 16.

“If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be taking on three different opponents. We’ll have to be able to adapt to their style of play in order to nullify it and make our strengths pay.

“I think the team can potentially excel in all four phases of play, albeit we’re better in some than in others. We’re very assured defensively and are really good at dictating when we go forward, but our biggest strength is switching from defence to attack.

“It also depends on whether the opposition let us have the ball or try to dominate themselves. We feel comfortable either way. What’s our ideal scenario? to always dominate.

“We’ve got players coming back from injury and others who are fatigued because of a gruelling domestic campaign; we want to nurse them back to full fitness so we’re firing on all cylinders when the Club World Cup gets under way.”

This will be Pachuca’s fourth appearance in the tournament with their best finish being a run to the semi-finals after which they finished fourth in 2008.

Particular Asian interest will be cast on the Mexicans as Keisuke Honda looks to use his performances on the world stage here to get himself back into regular contention for the Japan squad ahead of next year’s World Cup in Russia. The 31-year-old former AC Milan attacking midfielder, known for his curling freekicks and bleach blonde hair, is arguably the biggest name at this month’s tournament outside of Real Madrid’s dressing room.

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