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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 April 2019

Marcus Berg confident of being back to full health for Al Ain's Fifa Club World Cup clash with Esperance

The Swedish striker was limited to substitute role as the AGL champions survived Team Wellington scare on Wednesday

Marcus Berg celebrates his goal for Al Ain against Team Wellington. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Marcus Berg celebrates his goal for Al Ain against Team Wellington. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Marcus Berg is confident he will be back at full health on Saturday to help Al Ain reach the Fifa Club World Cup semi-finals.

The Swedish striker was limited to a substitute role on Wednesday due to a high fever as the Arabian Gulf League champions came from three goals down to eventually defeat Team Wellington 4-3 on penalties in their play-off tie at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

Berg still made an impact, scoring his side's equaliser that made it 3-3 and forced the game into extra time.

He struck his penalty in the shoot-out over the bar, but two saves from goalkeeper Khalid Essa ensured Al Ain prevailed and now face Esperance de Tunis on Saturday, again at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, for a place in the last four and a showdown on Tuesday with Copa Libertadores champions River Plate.

Of how he had handled Wednesday's encounter, while struggling with ill health, the 32 year old said: “I came in to play around 20 minutes but had to play the extra-time also, so it was hard.

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“I tried my best but I didn’t kill myself out there. I have been having this [fever] for the last two days. I hope I’ll feel better by tomorrow and I have to do everything to be fit for the next game.”

Berg said he and his teammates would quickly turned their focus from their fightback against Wellington to looking at how they can get past the African champions.

“We’ll speak about them when we get to the hotel, with meeting and stuff, and at training for the next game,” he said.

Wednesday proved to be a mixed night for Berg as while he scored in normal time he then missed in the shoot-out, and he said he was relieved his wayward effort had not proved to be costly.

“You feel bad when you miss any penalty," he added. "I should do better and at the end, we managed to win with Khalid saving two.”

Al Ain had been expected to make comfortable progress past Wellington, but instead had to stage an impressive comeback from three down as Tsukasa Shiotani and Tongo Doumbia netted before Berg levelled things.

Berg said he had been impressed by Wellington, but admitted the host side in the tournament had made life difficult for themselves.

“We knew they will fight and they also had quality,” he said. “They showed it a lot of times on the pitch. We are not surprised but we could have managed it better.

“They had four shots and three goals in the first half. We have to do better now we’ll be playing better teams in the Club World Cup.”

Berg's teammate Caio credited the determination of he and his teammates for their renaissance.

“We had to win, so, we had to do our best when we came back in the second half,” said the Brazilian.

“I just want to say thanks to my team and to everybody for having given 200 per cent on the pitch. We must celebrate this win because we worked very hard for it.”

When asked if their manager Zoran Mamic said at the break, Caio added: “He told us to do our best because we had quality in every line and still we could win the game from 3-1 down.

“He said, if we can play to that potential, we can still win. That’s what we did we came on to the pitch for the second half.”

Updated: December 13, 2018 08:46 PM

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