Silver linings for departing duo

Club de Futbol Pachuca and Al-Wahda Sports Club went into Wednesday’s match for fifth place at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010 with different perspectives. For the Mexicans, the game presented an opportunity to atone for their quarter-final reverse against TP Mazembe Englebert, while the Emirati side were looking to confirm the progress the game has made in a region where it is becoming increasingly popular.

And when the dust settled on Pachuca’s penalty shoot-out win, both sides were able to draw positive conclusions. Leading 2-0 with just minutes of normal time remaining, Al Wahda have every reason to be optimistic about the future, while Pachuca could at least take some late comfort from a competition that had promised more.

That feeling was confirmed by Los Tuzos’ striker Dario Cvitanich when he spoke to FIFA.com afterwards. The scorer of a late match-saving brace and a penalty in the shootout, the Argentinian ended the tournament on a high after failing to make an impact in his side’s opening game against the Congolese.

“It doesn’t make up for the pain of losing but at least we can take some pride from it,” said the Pachuca No19. “We needed to go for that win today. We pressed hard but still fell two goals behind. So to be able to come back and win was important for the honour of the club.”

It’s a strong footballing country that’s always there or thereabouts, but obviously there’s something that’s stopping it from taking that extra step.
Pachuca's Dario Cvintanich on Mexico

Cvitanich believes the lessons to be drawn from UAE 2010 could help Mexican football move forward in the future and follow the example currently being set by surprise tournament finalists TP Mazembe. “It’s a shame for Mexico that we weren’t able to perform,” he added. “It’s a strong footballing country that’s always there or thereabouts, but obviously there’s something that’s stopping it from taking that extra step.”

The 26-year-old forward’s contract with Pachuca ends on 31 December. While reluctant to discuss his next career move, the Argentinian was delighted to end his productive stay with Los Tuzos in style and on a global stage.

“It was an important game and a good way to end my spell with the club,” he said. “It’s a Club World Cup and to score two goals is always a nice feeling. It was also great to have the chance to say goodbye to my team-mates, and I’ll only have good memories of them. But now, I’m going to go home and then make my decision.”

Springboard for Al Wahda
At first sight, Al Wahda’s sixth-place finish in a seven-team tournament would not appear to be great cause for celebration. The Emirati side had their moments, however, starting with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Hekari United FC and ending with a fine performance against the CONCACAF champions, with the home team scoring an impressive six goals in their three games.

The task Al Wahda now face is to use UAE 2010 as a springboard for their upcoming assaults on the Emirati league and the AFC Asian Champions League, a competition in which they have yet to make an impression.

“We’ve had some tough lessons, especially giving away that lead at the end, but there have also been some positive things,” said the experienced Ismaeil Matar, one of the side’s star performers in their three games. “The Club World Cup is unlike any other tournament. You’ve got champion teams from all over the world here and I’m sure we can draw on this experience for the future. All we need to do is keep on working and improving.”