Abu Dhabi: Al Jazira coach Henk Ten Cate very well knows that his team has surpassed the first hurdle at the Fifa Club World Cup by the skin of their teeth.
Had it not been for the brilliance of goalkeeper and skipper Ali Khaseif, who came up with a barrage of saves, the one goal cushion provided by Brazilian Romarinho wouldn’t have been enough against the onslaught of Auckland City.
“Very lucky to be honest,” said Ten Cate, who felt his players despite starting on a positive note were nervous and that kept Auckland City in the game till the end.
“We started again pretty well, but after that some nervousness crept in. Even after scoring the goal we didn’t recover from that. Probably because of the inexperience of lot of players,” said Ten Cate adding, “If you look at the game, Auckland was the best and let’s be honest.”
The Dutchman had said in the prematch press conference that football is the ‘only sport where even the best team doesn’t always win’ and reiterating that statement he said,
“You can say this happened to us but we were always capable of scoring a goal. All credit to Khaseif’s fantastic goalkeeping.”
Ten Cate was hoping that he would be able to get the service of couple of injured players and add more stability to the team for the next outing against Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in two days’ time.
“I hope for the next games we have some more players recovered. If I get one or two players it will be of great help. I’m proud of the team looking at the circumstances with so many players out. With so many youngsters in and getting success like this is amazing, so I’m happy,” said the 62-year-old, who vociferously brushed aside that his team played against an amateur side Auckland City and were still tested to the core.
“If we played today an amateur side, then they played a schoolboys team. I mean you can say that as well because we have a lot of kids in the team who lack experience.
“Some of the players couldn’t cope with the stress and looked like they were afraid to play and didn’t have the guts to go forward. Thanks to goalkeeper we were able to move forward in the tournament,” said Ten Cate adding that the team qualified for the tournament with lot of hard work and now that they have two more matches on hand, his side will be better prepared to make the most.
“This is what we wanted and we succeeded in being there now. So these two matches we want to do our best. We can’t dream ahead and have to look at each game at a time.
“Tomorrow we look at Urawa they are a very good team. I saw them in Asian Champions League and they were a very good. We will have to do a much better performance if want to be successful but I’m looking forward to the game.”