Abu Dhabi: Manager coach Go Oiwa said Kashima Antlers are eyeing revenge and will be leaving no stone unturned in plotting Real Madrid’s downfall in the semi-finals of the Fifa Club World Cup. The Japanese side take on the Spanish powerhouse in their clash at Zayed Sports City Stadium at 8.30pm on Wednesday.
Kashima had a great opportunity to shock Real two years ago when the tournament was hosted in their own backyard in Yokohama. However, they let their mighty opponents escape after taking a 2-1 lead, riding on a brace from Gaku Shibasaki.
The match was forced into extra-time and Cristiano Ronaldo scored a stunning hat-trick to guarantee the Club World Cup title for Real with a 4-2 win.
“Real Madrid is still Real Madrid as it was two years ago,” said Oiwa in the prematch press conference. “I don’t know if we are closer to winning this time, but this time again, we will be giving our best so that we can proceed to the final. We will be playing a strong unit and doing everything in our powers to script a favourable result.”
The coach went on to add that the absence of Ronaldo doesn’t make Real a weak team by any means and they still have to stay guarded against their opponents.
“Without Ronaldo also Madrid is a very strong team,” said Oiwa. “They still have many quality players who can score. There are many players against whom we have to pay attention. So tomorrow also we will have to be cautious against their forwards. We will have to be very watchful in their defence.
“I really cannot measure how much of a loss Ronaldo is for Madrid but our focus is on not to concede goals and to proceed in the tournament.”
Oiwa added that the last time they took part in the tournament as hosts, no one paid attention to them, but now they are representing Asia and that gives them more motivation.
“Representing Japan and Asia and that is what is on our mind,’ he said. “When it comes to Japan football we want to fight as a group and in an organised way. Maybe, there will be some individual efforts from the players, but we want to have the perfect linkage between our defence and offence.”
Kashima’s star player from the last match, Doi Shoma, added that they want to play football in a way that will “marvel the world”.
“If we can play our best football then tomorrow will be a special day,” he said. “In 2016, we were there as J-League champions and this time we are here as Asian Champion. It gives us more confidence and a different kind of spirit. We have carried it to the UAE and that difference could matter. There are some players who couldn’t be here due to injury and we want to win it for them as well.”
Shoma bagged the Player of the Match award in the 3-2 win over Guadalajara in the quarters. After trailing by a goal within three minutes, Kashima had showed a lot of character to score three second-half goals from Ryota Nagaki, Serginho and Hiroki Abe.
“No matter how the game unfolds, moment by moment we want to control the game and we did that in the first match,” added Shoma. “It was tough in the first half, but we made the correction after the half-time.
“It was a lesson that one should never give up and we will be having that variation if situation arises tomorrow. We will play the game accordingly.”