OSAKA – Atletico Nacional have all the respect in the world for Kashima Antlers but will not let them get in the way of reaching the Club World Cup final, midfielder Jhon Mosquera said Monday.
South American champions Atletico arrived in Osaka on Saturday with a heavy heart, still grieving over the air crash two weeks ago involving Brazilian club Chapecoense, which was flying to Colombia to face it in the Copa Sudamericana final.
Amid the healing process, Atletico must turn its attention to Kashima, which on Sunday defeated African champions Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 to advance to Wednesday’s semifinal.
Mosquera said Atletico is out to win the Club World Cup not only for itself but also for Chapecoense. So while Atletico will be on its toes against Kashima — which will be trying to become the first Asian side to get to the final — it is playing for something much bigger.
“The team is always in our hearts and our minds,” Mosquera said of Chapecoense. “Every time we play and we win, it is a homage to their team. I think the entire world soccer community has been affected by this tragedy and everyone will remember them forever.”
“They’re a very fast team and we have to be aware of how they play,” the Colombian said of Antlers. “They’re a great team and there’s a reason why they’re here, representing Japan.”
Traditionally, South American clubs have been the most passionate participants of the Club World Cup, even dating back to the competition’s predecessor, the Toyota Cup.
Mosquera, who has always watched the Club World Cup on television in the past, said Atletico is no different and hopes to end Europe’s three-year hold on the trophy.
Corinthians were the last Copa Libertadores winners to lift the Club World Cup.
“We are all happy to be here because it’s a dream to be participating in this tournament,” Mosquera said. “We want to do whatever we can to get to the final.
“We’ve always watched the games and we think it’s an amazing tournament. It gets a lot of attention because the world’s best teams are here and we have a great opportunity here. We have plenty of motivation to win.”