Club America can light up the Club World Cup with its own devastating brand of attacking soccer, coach Luis Fernando Tena said Thursday.
Mexico’s America plays Chonbuk Motors of South Korea on Monday in their opening game of the Dec. 10-17 tournament that brings together the top clubs from each of the FIFA confederations.
And coach Tena believes strikers Claudio Lopez, Matias Vuoso, Salvador Cabanas and attacking midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco are ready to wreak havoc on the six-team field.
“These four are the key offensive players and they play very direct, attacking football,” Tena said.
“We have good individual players and we’re especially proud of our forwards.
“We will play as aggressive football as possible.”
If North and Central American (CONCACAF) champion America beats Asian Champion Chonbuk, it will play Champions League holders Barcelona, which receives a first-round bye, in the semifinals on Dec. 14.
The Spanish giants will know all about striker Lopez, who starred for league rivals Valencia in the late 1990s. The 33-year-old captain Blanco, meanwhile, has played over 80 times for Mexico.
But even with the attacking wealth at his disposal, Tena said he is not thinking beyond Chonbuk.
“We’re focused on the first game. It’s not all about Barcelona. There are six teams here and they are all good sides,” the coach said.
“We haven’t had a proper chance to study Chonbuk. However, we watched a video on the flight over and myself and other coaches are now aware of the team and what style they play.”
The other side of the draw sees Oceania champion Auckland City FC of New Zealand and Egypt’s Al Ahly, the African champion, contest the opening match on Dec. 10. The winner meets South American champion Internacional of Brazil in the final four.
The final takes place at International Stadium Yokohama on Dec. 17.
In last year’s final, South American champion Sao Paulo beat European powerhouse Liverpool 1-0.
The Club World Cup began in 1960 as the Intercontinental Cup before changing to the Toyota Cup in 1980, with the cup contested between South American and European heavyweights.
FIFA staged the first Club World Championship in 2000 and the second last year, before the named changed to the current Club World Cup.
America advanced to this year’s tournament after a 2-1 win against fellow Mexicans Toluca in the CONCACAF Champions Cup final in April.
Chonbuk advanced with a 3-2 aggregate win over Syria’s Al Karama in the Asian Champions League final.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.