x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Captain Zanetti hopes to restore Inter to the top

The Inter captain refuses to accept his side are favourites ahead of tonight's Club World Cup final against TP Mazembe.

ABU DHABI // Javier Zanetti, the Inter Milan club captain, refuses to accept his side are favourites ahead of tonight's Club World Cup final against TP Mazembe.

The African champions from the Democratic Republic of Congo pulled off the surprise of the tournament on Tuesday night by beating Internacional of Brazil in the semi-finals and becoming the first club from outside Europe and South America to reach the final in the seven stagings of Fifa's intercontinental club competition.

But Zanetti said it would be foolhardy to believe his side will have it easy in their quest to be crowned the best team in the world for the first time since 1965, when the Italians beat Independiente of Argentina in the tournament's previous incarnation, the Intercontinental Cup, played between Europe and South America.

"Motivation is strong because I have been waiting for 16 years to reach today," said Zanetti, 37, who joined Inter in 1995. "This might be my only chance to win this, so I will give my best to lift the cup. It is a great opportunity to bring Inter back to the top, but we know it will be difficult. Nowadays, there are no favourites. At this level, all matches are very balanced and it would be a mistake to think otherwise. If Mazembe can beat a Mexican team and a Brazilian team, then there's no reason why they can't do the same to a European team. But we'll be fully focused on the task in hand, as we have no desire to fall into the same trap."

Esteban Cambiasso, Zanetti's Argentine compatriot, echoed his captain's sentiments, acknowledging Mazembe will be motivated by the opportunity to make further history and become the first African team to win the Club World Cup.

"It would be dangerous if we did not approach the game with the same mentality that we expect from them," he said. "But we know a win takes us to the top of the world."