Abu Dhabi: River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo wants to end a disappointing Fifa Club World Cup in the best way possible against Kashima Antlers in the third place play-off from 5.30pm on Saturday.
The South American champions were stunned 5-4 on penalties to local side Al Ain in Tuesday’s semi and now need to make it up to their travelling fans against Kashima, who lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in their semi on Wednesday.
“This is not the match we wanted to play but we need to finish this tournament in the best way possible,” said Gallardo. “We will play players with the best energy who can perform according to what we want.
“After that we will take a flight to Buenos Aires in order to live and enjoy the great success of what we achieved before coming here,” he said in reference to the club’s Copa Libertadores win over Boca Juniors in Madrid two weeks ago.
“We couldn’t do that earlier, we’ve met some fans here, but still haven’t managed to celebrate with the rest of the people. We can do that on Sunday.”
Asked if failure in the Club World Cup would take the shine off their Copa victory among fans back in Argentina, he replied: “Those who are not from Argentina will not understand what it means to win the Copa against Boca. We’ve lost our Club World Cup match but that’s not as important as the final in Madrid for River fans.”
The Copa final second leg at River’s stadium got postponed due to crowd trouble and moved to Madrid.
“We lost our match (against Al Ain) and of course this was very important for us, it was a privilege to be here, but it’s not easy to win Copa. What happened in Copa also affected us. They took the match away from our stadium and played it two weeks later.
“A lot of things happened in those 40 days it took a lot of wear and tear mentally and physically. It would be easier to put a new chip in the player’s heads but they are human and feel things, they experience and suffer, this has to be considered.
“To lose against Al Ain was not the most important thing. Now we have to catch that happiness and embrace it with our fans in Argentina who are going to be very happy for us.”
Of Kashima, he said: “They have good experience in this tournament after playing Real in the final two years ago and again in Wednesday’s semi. Japanese teams have really improved these last few years and their national team showed that at the World Cup. Japanese football has evolved and we fully respect it.”
Kashima coach Go Oiwa said he wanted to get off to a fast start against River just as Al Ain were able to do in the semi.
“That goal liberated them so we will try to be solid in attack and defence, focus on set plays and exploit any weaknesses to score while not giving them the opportunity from their set pieces.
“We need to have a solid start or we can’t win and I’ve conveyed that message to the players. This is the final match of the season for us and we are hoping for a grand finale.
“We want to be solid in defence and move swiftly to attack. That’s the kind of football we want to express on the pitch and we are preparing to that end.
“We need courage and confidence to finish off scoring opportunities so our mental approach will be very important.”