Brazilian winger says UAE champions can hold their own against likes of Real Madrid 'as long as we have the necessary courage and anticipation to face all challenges
Caio: Al Ain 'have nothing to fear' when world's best teams arrive in Abu Dhabi for the Fifa Club World Cup
Al Ain have nothing to fear at this year’s Fifa Club World Cup on home soil, according to winger Caio.
The UAE champions, making their debut at the tournament in December, can now plot their route beyond the event opener against New Zealand’s Team Wellington after the draw was made at Fifa’s headquarters in Zurich on Tuesday.
Should Al Ain get past the Oceania champions – the match takes place at their Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on December 12 – they will face the winners of the African Champions League, which will be decided in November. That match will also be played in the Garden City.
The winners of the Copa Libertadores, who are confirmed on November 28, then wait in the semi-finals. Real Madrid, the defending Club World Cup champions and the Uefa Champions League holders, were placed in the opposite side of the draw and will be favourites to reach the final at Zayed Sports City Stadium on December 22. The Spanish giants have won the past two Club World Cup titles.
“There is a challenging atmosphere present and we look forward to delighting the fans,” said Caio, Al Ain’s Brazilian winger. “This championship is of great importance to us and we are well aware of that. Our team is absolutely ready. It is necessary that we show this in order to win.
“We have nothing to fear as long as we have the necessary courage and anticipation to face all challenges against the world’s best international teams.”
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Al Ain will be hoping to at least emulate fellow UAE side Al Jazira, who last year reached the semi-finals. There, the Abu Dhabi club took a shock lead against Madrid in the capital before eventually losing 2-1. Jazira went on to finish fourth having played four matches in 10 days.
Given that potential schedule, and with Al Ain determined to successfully defend the Arabian Gulf League title they won last season, and the President’s Cup as well, manager Zoran Mamic recognises the difficulty of the task ahead.
However, the Croat feels home advantage could play a crucial role in his side having a successful Club World Cup campaign.
“For sure, Al Ain will face tough competitions this season and will be fighting on multiple fronts,” Mamic said. “We have a great team and are capable of competing in the toughest competitions. We are looking forward to the strong support of Croatian, Emirati and Gulf fans. Such a public presence and support are ideal, and will be a major factor in the team’s victory in all major challenges.”
Mohammed Fayez, the Al Ain defender, added: “What is important for us after the draw is having thorough preparation, which will enhance our chances of a strong performance against the best teams in the world. Our aim is to perform and achieve local and international titles and take upon us the spirit of the historic Al Ain that we honour.”