Dubai: Guadalajara keeper Raul Gudino returns to the UAE for the Fifa Club World Cup this week — with the aim of going one better in the emirates after finishing runner-up here with Mexico at the Under-17 World Cup in 2013.
The 22-year-old lost 3-0 to Nigeria in Abu Dhabi, losing out on the Golden Glove to Nigeria’s Dale Alampasu in a tournament where Manchester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho made his breakthrough.
The Mexicans had finished second in their group behind Nigeria ahead of Sweden and Iraq before beating Italy, Brazil and Argentina in the knockouts. A second stab at beating Nigeria in the final, who had already beaten them 6-1 in their opening game, ended in failure however.
“I have fantastic memories of that World Cup, where we had a great tournament. They’re going to stay with me for the rest of my life,” Gudino told Fifa.com
“I remember every moment, from the first game to the last. We’re going with the same mindset now, with belief that we can make history and achieve big things.”
Guadalajara, also known as ‘Chivas,’ take on Japan’s Kashima Antlers in the Fifa Club World Cup quarter-final in Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday from 5pm. A semi-final clash with defending champions Real Madrid of Spain awaits the winners on December 19 in Al Ain from 8.30pm.
“I feel older now,” added Gudino, who has since gone on to play for Portugal’s Porto — alongside legendary Spanish former Real keeper Iker Casillas — before returning to Chivas via Cyprus’ APOEL, this year.
“As the years go by, you become more mature and more experienced. The time I spent in Europe, where I played with great players — and not just Iker — taught me to be as competitive as them and to maintain that level, to keep pushing on, fight the whole time and never give up.
“Going back was something I’d been dreaming about,” he said of his return to Chivas, where he started his youth career in 2006.
“It’s a dream to be playing in the club where I learnt my trade, where I started playing and living out a passion that I enjoy to the full. I’m looking at this whole period as if it were the last and I want to give my all in defending this jersey.
“Chivas are a young side but we’ve got experience too, which you don’t always see. We want to kick on and make history.
“Both sides are under pressure, us and them,” he said of Kashima. “That’s what makes football great, though: it gives you those kinds of challenges and goals.”
Of Real who await them in the semi finals, he added: “The chance to take on players like that and find out how good we are would be fantastic, and not just for me, but for everyone. But at the end of the day, they’re the same as us: they’re human just like us. They’re not from a different planet.”
So can he go one better and make up for 2013? “We have to dream, believe in it and then make it happen. We want this so badly and we’ll be doing all we can to make our dream a reality.”