AC Milan are raring to avenge Boca Juniors in the Club
World Cup opening here today with Ronaldo, back from injury, ready to
join playmaker Kaka and fellow goal-machine Filippo Inzaghi.
Both Milan and Boca, Argentina’s most crowned club who defeated the
Italian side in the 2003 Intercontinental Cup final, have left behind
disappointments in their home leagues to face other continental
Despite advancing to the Champions League knock-out rounds, Milan are
currently languishing 11th in the Serie-A, while Boca have just lost the
battle for the Argentine league title to Lanus. “I have a burning desire
to win the Club World Cup, especially with it being my second crack at
this title,” said Brazilian Kaka.
“I haven’t forgotten our defeat to Boca Juniors.”
Boca midfielder Alvaro Gonzalez said: “It would be very nice to win this
competition, especially to compensate people for the support they gave
us when things didn’t turn out well.”
The annual tournament, in its third year under the current format, kicks
off with a play-off between Iran’s Sepahan and Waitakere United of New
Zealand. Milan and Boca are seeded in the semifinals set for the middle
of next week.
“This time, my teammates and I will be hugely motivated to see things
work out right for us,” the 25-year-old Kaka, who won France’s
prestigious Ballon d’Or award for best player of the year on Sunday,
told Fifa.com. Kaka admitted the Club World Cup is seen as a “bonus” in
Europe below the Champions League although it is the “most important
title” in his native Brazil. “Things are different this year,” he said.
“In brief, we’re 100 percent focused on the job in hand and we want that
Cup.” Europe’s best have been shamed by Brazilian sides in the Club
World Cup, which merged the traditional Intercontinental Cup featuring
European and South American champions and a one-off club world
championship in 2000.
Sao Paulo smashed Liverpool 1-0 in 2005 and Internacional whipped
Barcelona by the same score last year. In the 2000 tournament,
Corinthians beat fellow Brazilian side Vasco da Gama. Boca coach Miguel
Russo said before his team’s departure for Tokyo that he could not wait
for the Club World Cup “because I see that the team is in good shape.”
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti added: “This World Cup is the main objective
of the season. We’ll try to bring home another Cup, to cap off a very
positive year.” Ronaldo, the Brazilian phenomenon who has featured in
just one match this season due to a thigh injury, will be fit to play in
Japan, according to Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani.
Milan won the Intercontinental Cup in 1989 and 1990.
But, in the 2003 final, the Argentinians beat the Rossoneri 3-1 on
penalties after a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes, adding to their previous
honours in 1977 and 2000.
With the pride of their countries and regions, other continental
champions refuse to be written off as also-rans in this year’s event.
Tunisia’s Etoile Sahel will clash with Mexico’s Pachuca here on Sunday
for the right to face Boca in the semifinals.