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Ahly’s potential Club World Cup opponents take nothing for granted

Brazilian outfit Corinthians, who may face Egyptian giants Ahly in the Club World Cup semis, sound a cautious note

Reuters, Friday 7 Dec 2012
Alessandro (2nd R) of Brazil's Corinthians holds up the trophy with his teammates after winning their Copa Libertadores second leg final match against Argentina's Boca Juniors in Sao Paulo, July 4, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Corinthians are taking nothing for granted, despite being under huge pressure to win soccer's Club World Cup, coach Tite said as his team arrived in Japan on Friday.

The South American Libertadores Cup holders face either Egypt's Ahly or J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the tournament's first semi-final.

Even though they have 48 hours more to acclimatise than dethroned European champions Chelsea, whom they could face in the final, Tite said his team were looking no further than Wednesday's game in Toyota.

"We will not be taking anything for granted," Tite told reporters in Nagoya. "South Americans have lost semi-finals before.

"We have a responsibility to win and there is enormous pressure to do so."

Fellow Brazilians Internacional were upset by African champions Mazembe 2-0 at the 2010 Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

Chelsea, arguably under even more pressure after their embarrassing exit from the Champions League at the group stage, play on Thursday in Yokohama.

"Most of the past Club World Cup semi-finals have been extremely close," said Tite, who was linked to the Brazil job after Mano Menezes's sacking last month. "No team has really dominated."

Corinthians, winners of the first edition of the FIFA competition in 2000, became the Libertadores Cup's first unbeaten champions since 1978 this year.

Given a raucous send-off by some 15,000 fans waving banners and setting off fire extinguishers at Sao Paulo's main airport, Corinthians expect to have thousands of supporters making the trip to Japan.

"We have been preparing for this tournament through the Brazilian league," said Tite. "That's what it takes to win the trophy.

"You can't start your preparation when you arrive here because by then it's too late."

Chelsea face either Mexico's Monterrey or South Koreans Ulsan Hyundai in their semi-final where another slip-up could possibly cost interim coach Rafael Benitez his job.

European clubs have won the last five Club World Cup tournaments, with Barcelona lifting the trophy last year and in 2009.

Former J-League player of the year Emerson predicted Corinthians would break South America's title drought this year.

"We are in good shape," said the 34-year-old striker. "It's cold here, not like in Brazil, but all the players are ready. We have plenty of talent in the team to do the job."

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