x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Club World Cup win could keep Inter coach in a job

For Rafa Benitez, the Inter Milan coach, the Club World Cup will be a chance to exorcise old demons and possibly save his job.

Samuel Eto’o, the Inter Milan striker, trudges off dejected after his side lost 3-0 to Werder Bremen in Germany on Tuesday.
Samuel Eto’o, the Inter Milan striker, trudges off dejected after his side lost 3-0 to Werder Bremen in Germany on Tuesday.

For Rafa Benitez, the Inter Milan coach, the Club World Cup will be a chance to exorcise old demons and possibly save his job.

When he was the manager of Liverpool, Benitez lost the 2005 Club World Cup to Sao Paulo.

He comes into the 2010 tournament hoping his injury-plagued Inter squad shows the dominance they displayed last year in claiming a treble of titles.

The Italian media have suggested anything short of the championship in Abu Dhabi could end Benitez's short reign.

Massimo Moratti, the club president, has so far stuck by the embattled coach but the club sit sixth in Series A, have already accumulated as many losses as they did all last season and suffered a 3-0 defeat to Werder Bremen on Tuesday night in the Champions League.

"I think that for all of us it will be an important event," Benitez said.

Inter won a prior incarnation of the Club World Cup in 1964 and 1965 when it was called the Intercontinental Cup.

"The Club World Cup is the aim, now everything changes, the mentality changes. For me, as a coach it is an opportunity to win an incredibly important tournament at club level," said Benitez. "I remember the past [with Liverpool], but I must forget and think about the future, because I think it is more important to move on and believe we can win this time."

Inter, who should be boosted by the return of Diego Milito from injury, have a bye through to the semi-finals, where they will face either Seongnam Ilhwa, the Asian Champions League winners, or Al Wahda, the Pro League champions who last night beat Hekari United in the opening game.

A semi-final victory will likely mean a final against Internacional, a team who won their first Club World Cup title in 2006 when they beat Barcelona 1-0.

"For now, we have concentrated on Brazil's Internacional. I myself watched them play one match and I thought they were fast and technically strong," Benitez said in an interview on Fifa's website. "We'll also take a closer look at our other rivals, because although we're aware of our strengths, we respect the brand of football played on every continent."

Like Inter, Internacional have struggled domestically since earning a spot in the tournament by winning the Copa Libertadores final earlier this year. They are eighth in the Brazilian standings.

Vitorio Piffero, the club president, said Internacional will head to the competition without the underdog status they had in 2006.

"Now we have a bigger responsibility," Piffero told the team's website. "It's more complicated than it was in 2006."

Internacational have to beat either TP Mazembe of DR Congo or Mexico's Pachuca to reach the final.

"Our biggest challenge is the semi-final, because that's our first match," Bolivar, the Internacional defender, said. "We won't yet talk about a possible match against Inter Milan. That's for the press to do."

For their part, Pachuca, the Concacaf champions, are aiming to end a bad run of form from Mexican clubs at the tournament since Necaxa's third place in 2000.

"It's true, every time a Mexican club goes to a Club World Cup things start to go wrong," Edgar Benitez, the Pachuca forward, told the Fifa website. But the Paraguayan said he expected better this time around and felt the team were well positioned to reach the finals.

"We're all really hoping that we can win our first game and take on Brazilian side Inter, who play very good football," the Mexican club's attacker said. "We'd then give it our best shot against them because we're dreaming of a meeting with the European champions.

"But we have to take things one step at time, because we know our African opponents are a very good side too."