- Al Hilal face Esperance in their Qatar 2019 opener
- Tunisian side have more tournament experience than the Saudi giants
- Andre Carrillo reveals Al Hilal’s weapons for tournament
Al Hilal embark on their FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™ quest with less experience than almost all the other teams. For example, their first opponents, Esperance, already graced the tournament in 2011 and 2018, with many in the current squad having taken part last year and some even in 2011.
Talking to FIFA.com, Al Hilal’s Peruvian forward Andre Carrillo spoke about his team’s other strengths, which he thinks can make up for their relative lack of tournament experience.
“It’s true we don’t have the experience Esperance and other teams have, but we played very tough games against strong opponents in the AFC Champions League," said Carrillo. "We’ll play here the same way and with the same determination to try to reach the final and win all our games."
Carrillo appeared happy during Al Hilal’s training session at Al Wahda Stadium, and why not? The whole team are enjoying their time in Doha, where they will be vying with the other continental champions for the first time to take home one of the game’s most coveted trophies.
“It’s a very important tournament in which big clubs are taking part," Carrillo said when asked about his team’s ambitions at Qatar 2019. "We’re all happy to be here and are determined to achieve our goals. We know it won’t be easy, but we’ll work hard to go as far as possible in the competition.”
Carrillo and his team-mates know that beating Esperance will not be easy. The Tunisian side are back-to-back African champions and will have learned from the mistakes they made against Al Ain last year. Moreover, their coach Mouine Chaabani has been doing his best to shield his squad from pressure and expectations since their arrival in Doha.
"We don’t know Esperance or the way they’ll play, but we’ll watch videos of their previous games," said Carrillo. "However, we all know that Tunisian teams are tough, which we saw first-hand when we played Etoile du Sahel in the Arab Championship last year. Playing against them is always difficult, but we’ll go into the game with the same determination we had in the AFC Champions League."
Player fact file
- Name: Andre Carrillo
- Position: Forward
- Nationality: Peruvian
- Height: 5'11” (1.81m)
- Age: 28
The Al Hilal squad has skilful stars from Saudi Arabia and abroad like Carrillo, Sebastian Giovinco and Bafetimbi Gomis, but the Peruvian insists it is not about individuals. “Our strength doesn’t lie in Carrillo, Giovinco or Gomis; we have other fantastic players from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere and it’s our teamwork that makes the difference and what gives us confidence.”
There is no danger that Carrillo and his team-mates will be looking beyond their first game to a potential semi-final against Flamengo or a possible encounter with Liverpool in the final. For now, they are fully focused on their Tunisian opponents. “Our first goal is to beat Esperance and only then will think about our next game," he said. "We have a first tough encounter so we’ll see what happens.”