Abu Dhabi: For an astounding 53 minutes, Al Jazira kept the reigning Spanish and European champions Real Madrid under check and even lead by a first half goal by Brazilian Romarinho in the Fifa Club World Cup semi-finals.
Had Mbark Boussoufa’s early second half goal not been disallowed, it would have been 2-0 and then perhaps even a team like Real may have buckled under pressure.
However, that didn’t happen and the defending champions made it to the final with a 2-1 win, thanks to the strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Reviews showed that it was a correct decision. Boussoufa was clearly a just a touch off-side as he lunged forward to receive the pass from Ali Mabkhout on the counter.
The Moroccan forward, who rued that missed opportunity, took solace in terming it a ‘decision that was made from above.’
“Yes, my body was there and it was an off-side and you have to respect that decision. In the first half, they [Real] also got a decision going against their way,” said Boussoufa, adding that even so it was a hard pill to swallow given the position they were in.
“It is not easy because you think you scored and suddenly it goes against you,” said Boussoufa, who felt that the goal would have made it difficult for Real but given the latter’s fire power they would have still clawed their way back into the match.
“The game changed after that but I still feel that wouldn’t have made it difficult for them. For a team like Real, they can create a chance any minute. I think at the end of the day, they deserved to go to the final. Maybe you can say we could have stolen a win,” said Boussoufa, who hailed the team, especially goalkeeper Ali Khaseif, for the spirit they showed.
“I think we did well, although we were lucky at times, but this is football. We almost made it more difficult for them but at the end our players did what they could do. Of course, if we play the players with this quality then it is a bit different but I think we can look at ourselves and feel proud,” said Boussoufa.
“We didn’t even think about the next game but from tomorrow we can think about it. We have to relax a bit. We would like to go for a win for sure. The mood in the team is good as they can be proud of what they did tonight.”
Al Jazira goalscorer Romarinho also hailed the team’s showing, saying: “Very proud of the teammates for what they did on the field. I was happy to score the goal. It was a unique experience playing against the Cristiano Ronaldo side.
“We were a bit unlucky with the second goal as Boussoufa was just centimetres ahead just before the pass,” said Romarinho, who felt that his home team from Brazil, Gremio being a well-organised team will give Real Madrid a good fight in the final.
Al Jazira’s ace striker Mabkhout was of the view that the team lived up to the expectations against a big team like Real Madrid.
“We have played to our best potential against Real and if we can now go on and win the third place, it would be a great achievement. We will be looking to do that.”