TOKYO: 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 beat 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
Milan and Boca are seeded in the semi-finals set for the middle of next
“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,
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
“Things are different this year,” he said. “In brief, we’re 100 per cent
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 edged 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
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 Argentines 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 on Sunday for
the right to face Boca in the semi-finals.
On Milan’s side of the tournament, the winners of the Sepahan-Waitakere
play-off will face Asian champions Urawa Reds of Japan in the
Sepahan, the runners-up in the AFC Champions League, are taking over the
berth reserved for the hosts.