x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Physicality of TP Mazembe has Pachuca worried

The Mexican club, who will make a record third appearance at the Club World Cup, are cautious of their African opponents.

ABU DHABI // Pachuca are the first team to make a third attempt at a Club World Cup title, which speaks well for the Mexican club's ability to reach the elite tournament but not so well about their ability to survive long in it.

Pachuca have lost three of the four matches they played in their previous Club World Cup appearances, in 2007 and 2008, in Japan, and the champions of the North American confederation face a quarter-final tomorrow against TP Mazembe of Africa.

"The truth is that they are a team that is physically very strong, very fast, and they are waiting to really give us a hard battle," Leobardo Lopez, the defender, said yesterday. "We will have to be really attentive of their strengths because they really attack very well."

Pablo Marini, Pachuca's Argentine coach, said it was difficult to find videos of Mazembe and a bit disconcerting when he did.

"We were really surprised by their physical power, with players who are really strong in the field," he said. "They don't give you time to think on the ball."

He said his club were not musing about the possibility of a high-profile semi-final game with Internacional of Brazil.

"Our first match with Mazembe is against a very important rival," he said. "We have to be very concentrated and have a good attitude to survive this first game."

He said that Pachuca will attempt to impose their preferred style on the game.

"Pachuca is known for being a very defensive team, trying to control the tempo and holding the ball most of the time, and that's what we will try to do."

Marini did not coach the Pachuca teams who played in the 2007 and 2008 Club World Cups, but about half of the current players were in those squads.

Said Lopez: "We have even more experience than we did before, obviously. We are a group that really wants to do something for our club and our country, to do something that makes history.

"I see everybody really excited and I hope we can do something important in this tournament."

poberjuerge@thenational.ae