On 7 November in Costa Rica, FIFA embarked on its series of meetings with the qualifiers for the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup 2005. In San José, the home town of Deportivo Saprissa, club representatives, FIFA dignitaries and players gave a press conference during which the Costa Ricans set out their intentions.
For Deportivo Saprissa, the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005 is a matter of pride. On 7 November, the Official Trophy was presented to the club in the presence of Isaac D. Sasso Sasso, a member of FIFA's Executive Committee, and Rafael Salguero, Vice-President of CONCACAF.
Not only are the Deportivo players delighted to be taking part in the world's most prestigious club championship, but they are clearly ambitious too, as revealed by Gérald Drummond. "It's a wonderful opportunity to show what we're capable of at the highest level. We're a well-balanced, cohesive unit, whose success is based on our defence. We're going to Japan to bring back the cup!"
Victor Cordero, a key member of this famously unyielding defence, is convinced that the Purple Monster ("El Monstruo Morado") – a nickname inspired by the colour of the shirt and the dragon that adorns the club's badge – can succeed in Japan: "In beating the Mexican and American clubs in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, we proved that we could beat anyone in our zone."
If anything, Cordero is overly confident. "We’ll be ready for Sydney, whom we meet in the opening day of the tournament on 11 December. And if we beat them we go on to meet the Reds of Liverpool, who I think we can beat too."
Gonzalez: "The most important match in the club's history"
The Ticos seem to be excited, rather than daunted, by the prospect of meeting the UEFA Champions League winners. "Coming up against Liverpool would undoubtedly be the most important match in the club's history… But, more importantly still, it would form part of our development process and that of Costa Rican football as a whole," mused Ronald Gonzalez.
The development of Costa Rican football is Señor Sasso Sasso's pet subject. FIFA's CONCACAF representative was effusive in his praise for his country's football which is flourishing thanks to the national side's qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals: "Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing Saprissa represent the CONCACAF zone in the forthcoming World Club Championship. It is an honour and a source of immense pride for us."
He also emphasised the importance of such an event. "I cannot conceal my delight that this new competition has been set up. It has been three years in the planning and now, finally, the dream of bringing together each of the six continental champions is about to be realised. This tournament will at last enable FIFA to bring the clubs together under its auspices. And it will be a success!"
Hernan Medford, the Saprissa coach and a former star of the Ticos, had the last word in stressing the effect that a successful performance by his club in the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005 could have: "Saprissa are a very well known club in the CONCACAF zone. However, if they achieve their goal in Japan, the team could become known throughout the world. My players have no hang-ups. They can turn this dream into reality." The tournament kicks off on 11 December.