Kashima Antlers aim to be pride of Asia as they look to go one better at the Fifa Club World Cup
The 2016 finalists start their challenge on Saturday at 5pm with a quarter-final clash against Guadalajara
Two years ago Kashima Antlers came close to winning the Fifa Club World Cup.
As the host team at the tournament they reached the final in Yokohama where they pushed Real Madrid hard, leading at one stage, before they lost 4-2 after extra-time with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick for the La Liga side.
Fast forward to Saturday and Kashima start their bid to go one step better and win the competition as they take on Mexican side Guadalajara at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain at 5pm in their quarter-final tie.
An extra incentive for them is if they are successful on Saturday they will have a rematch with Real, this time in the semi-finals, on Wednesday at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Manager Go Oiwa was assistant manager during the 2016 run to the final but is now manager, and he wants his side as the Asia representatives at the event, after winning the Asian Champions League in November, to do the continent proud.
"This is our second time in the tournament and, just like 2016 when we reached the final, we will be giving it our best,” he said on Friday.
“Representing Asia is an honour and we have to show good fight, be aggressive in our play and hopefully that will lead to good matches for us."
Gen Shoji, one of the 10 players from the 2016 team who are in the squad this time around, said he and his teammates were determined to raise their game and shine at the tournament.
“My personal expectations at this tournament are simple,” said the Japanese international. “I am a defender, I face the challenge of some strong forward players so I must be strong to make sure we keep their score at zero. Last time we finished second, this time we want to finish first.”
Kashima will be without the injured forward Yuma Suzuki (hamstring) and midfielder Kento Misao (groin).
Jose Cardozo, the Guadalaraja manager, said he want his side needed to bring their "quality" if they are to reach the last four.
“We want to make a good match and to reach the second round is our dream,” he said.
“We must show our quality. In Mexico we play good football and show to the world what Chivas are able to do. The team is excited and ready, and very motivated for this game.
“Kashima is a very organised team. They have two strong strikers. They play 4-4-2 and defend well. They are good in the counter attack but we are expecting an exciting match.”
Updated: December 14, 2018 05:48 PM