No Riquelme For Boca
Boca Juniors coach Miguel Angel Russo was magnanimous in defeat, admitting that the best team had won and that his charges had not quite managed to implement his tactics even though Boca had held their own in the first half before Kaka eventually stole the show. “We’re not going to let our heads drop,” insisted Russo. “Hopefully we’ll be back in Japan next year.” If they do make it back to Japan in 2008, they may well have Juan Roman Riquelme in tow. Although the Argentinian playmaker has already sealed his return from Spanish club Villarreal, the formalities of the deal were not completed in time to allow him to play in the 2007 Club World Cup.
The fans in the Yokohama International Stadium were treated to a dramatic final high on quality and full of goals, but before that, they had shown just as much enthusiasm for the match for third place, mainly because the “host team”, Urawa Red Diamonds, were up against African representatives Etoile du Sahel. It was a match that had everything that makes football so popular all around the world – emotions, stunning goals and a thrilling conclusion with a penalty shootout required to separate the two teams. Just as Kaka would later go on to turn the final in AC Milan’s favour, so the match for third place was also decided by a Brazilian, with powerful striker Washington scoring both of Urawa’s goals. It was a memorable performance from Washington, not least because it was his final appearance for the Reds before leaving the club and the country where he has enjoyed so much success, winning the AFC Champions League, the J.League and the Japanese cup. “It’s the best result we could have hoped for,” said a delighted Washington after the match. “It makes sense that Milan and Boca made it to the final. It makes me happy to say goodbye to Urawa’s extraordinary supporters with this brace. That’s what I had hoped for and I’m very emotional. I’ll never forget the people of Urawa.”
Third place at the FIFA Club World Cup was surely a measure of consolation for Urawa and their German coach Holger Osieck, who had seen their J.League ambitions thwarted by Kashima Antlers on the final day of the season after slipping to a surprise 1-0 defeat at the hands of the already-relegated Yokohama FC. At the Club World Cup, however, Urawa won many admirers as well as the FIFA Fair Play Award.