One day Guillermo Rojas will no doubt tell his grandchildren about the acrobatic goal he scored against the mighty Barcelona in the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009.
Yet, while satisfied with his personal contribution, Rojas’ big day was overshadowed by the disappointment of a 3-1 defeat to the Spanish giants, as he explains to FIFA.com. “It was exciting to play and score against them, which was a dream come true for me. But though I’m happy with the goal, it doesn’t make up for losing the game.”
Just to complete his day, however, the diminutive midfielder received a friendly pat on the chest and congratulations from Pep Guardiola as he departed the mixed zone, a touching incident witnessed by FIFA.com. “Something like that obviously makes you feel very proud,” said Rojas. “For the coach of the best side in the world to come out with a gesture like that
Despite his respect for the Catalans, the 26-year-old, who made his league debut with Puebla in 2003 and joined Atlante earlier this year, believes his side passed up a good chance to clinch a place in the final. “You don’t often get the opportunity to go ahead against a team like them, and you know that a one-goal advantage is never enough. And who knows what might have happened if we’d managed to extend our lead in the first half,” he added in reference to the chance Fernando Navarro missed when the Mexicans had their noses in front.
Regrets aside, the Iron Colts man is nevertheless looking forward to his side’s one remaining engagement in the Emirates, Saturday’s match for third place against Pohang Steelers. “We’ve had time now to come to terms with losing and we’re focusing on the match we have left. Third place is definitely worth going for and it’s not the same as finishing fourth. It would be an important achievement for us, for Mexico and the CONCACAF.”
And whatever happens against the AFC champions, Rojas believes UAE 2009 has been a positive experience for the club. “I think we have done Atlante proud,” he explains. “We’ve realised that we can play the best teams in the world and take the game to them. What we need to do now is apply what we’ve learned here in the Mexican league. And, of course, we’d love to come back for next year’s Club World Cup.”