Manager thanks supporters for coming to watch Arabian Gulf League side beat Auckland City, but Dutchman would like to see 'much more'
Ten Cate hopes Al Jazira fans turn up in bigger numbers for Fifa Club World Cup game against Urawa Red Diamonds
Henk Ten Cate was a relieved man after Al Jazira reached the quarter-finals of the Fifa Club World Cup.
He thanked the role the Abu Dhabi club's fans had in helping the side defeat Auckland City 1-0 at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, and his players acknowledged them, too.
At the end, they performed the Icelandic thunderclap with them, as a nod to their voluble support, as well as perhaps to the wintry weather.
“Thank you for supporting us, and hopefully they will come with much more to the next game,” said Henk ten Cate, Jazira’s manager. “We needed it today, and we will need it even more in the next game. We play in our home town, and hopefully that will be an advantage.”
Jazira have Japan’s Urawa Reds, the champions of Asia, next time out, at Zayed Sports City on Saturday, and the tournament organisers, as well as the club, will hope that being back in their home city will encourage more people to come to the game.
There were 4,246 supporters at the Auckland match in Al Ain. A paltry amount hardly befitting of a major competition, but perhaps understandable, too.
OK, so the host nation were represented. But they were still a little way from home themselves, and playing at the ground of arguably their biggest rivals.
Those who did make the effort made an appreciable noise. There were none of the tifos that usually welcome major matches at this venue, but red, white and black tickertape did rain from the Jazrawi at the entrance of the teams.
The supporters might have been forgiven for keeping their cash in their pockets for this game, too, given what is to follow.
Following the game against Urawa, the winners will face Real Madrid.
Tickets for those matches involving Cristiano Ronaldo et al, are already sold out. Everyone wants a part of it, opposition players included. You get the impression that some of those among the less-celebrated participants at this tournament might have packed their autograph books along with their boots.
The opener had the feel of an FA Cup first-round tie, when some part-time players were given the stage, knowing that they were a couple of wins away from facing some of the sport’s most gilded players.
Auckland City well know this feeling. They might be the only amateur team at this event, but this was their ninth appearance in the Club World Cup, more than any other club.
Seldom will their frustrations at getting an early return flight back to New Zealand have been quite this acute, either. They were, by the admission of Ten Cate himself, “the better side”.
“We were very lucky to be on the winning team,” the Dutchman said. “In football, the best doesn’t always win.”
Extra Time podcast: Al Jazira and Auckland City kick off festival of football
Ten Cate reflected that “if we played an amateur side, they played a schoolboy team”. It was not criticism of his players per se, rather a comment on the youth he was forced to pick because of injuries. He hopes to name a more experienced XI to face Urawa.
The Dutchman gave his opposite number an apologetic embrace at the end, and Ramon Tribulietx, Auckland’s manager, said his side had been hard done by.
“We have to take from this that we can come up to this level of football, as amateurs, and dominate a team like that,” Tribulietx said. “We can do it by playing good football and not sitting back. We dominated.
“Some of our players go to their jobs in the morning, they work for eight hours, and then come to training.
“They get paid expense, so when you compare our circumstances to Al Jazira’s, and you look at how the game went, I think that tells you a different story.”
Players to watch: Mabkhout, Honda and Asensio
Club World Cup: Complete team-by-team guide