ABU DHABI - South American commitment to
the club world title could help beleaguered coach Rafa Benitez
keep his job at Inter Milan.
"There are so many South Americans in our team that the will
(to win) is there," Colombian defender Ivan Cordoba said at the
Club World Cup on Saturday.
South American sides traditionally showed more interest than
their European rivals in the former Intercontinental Cup and
that perception remains with the competition in the current
Cordoba, speaking at a news conference, compared the
tournament with a World Cup for national sides and said: "For me
this is a dream. As I entered the stadium I remembered being at
Benitez has been under intense pressure since replacing
treble-winning coach Jose Mourinho at Inter this season and the
Club World Cup is seen as make-or-break time for the Spaniard.
Club president Massimo Moratti suggested after a 3-0 defeat
at Werder Bremen in the Champions League on Tuesday that he
would review Benitez's position after the tournament in Abu
Inter have lost seven matches this season, the same number
of defeats suffered by Mourinho's team in the whole of last
season, and were 10 points behind leaders AC Milan in Serie A
after 15 matches before leaving for Abu Dhabi.
Benitez could field a majority of South Americans in Inter's
opening match, a semi-final on Wednesday against the winners of
Saturday night's quarter-final between Asian champions Seongnam
and hosts al-Wahda.
Argentina striker Diego Milito, whose goals secured Inter's
three trophies last season, is hoping to recover from injury to
be available for the semi-final.
The final of the Club World Cup, now also contested by the
champions of Africa, Asia, the CONCACAF region and Oceania, has
continued to be contested every year by the European and South
"All the matches are finals at a World Cup, they are played
like that. The first is a final which, with a good result, can
take you to the grand final," said Cordoba, who attended the
news conference with Benitez.
The Colombia centre-back, saying Inter had overcome problems
last season too and would attempt to overcome them with good
football, added: "You don't forget from one day to the next how
Benitez refused to be drawn into a discussion of his job
amid media reports in Europe that Inter were already looking for
a replacement with former AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, now
with Zenit St Petersburg in Russia, said to be the favourite.
South American champions Internacional of Brazil are
favourites to beat Africa's TP Mazembe of DR Congo on Tuesday
and reach a potential final with Inter.
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