- Al Hilal preparing for third-place game against Monterrey
- Carlos Eduardo analyses his side’s loss to Flamengo
- Asian champions now aiming for podium finish
Despite their semi-final defeat to Flamengo, Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal have impressed so far at the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™. After an emphatic win over Esperance de Tunis in their opening game, the Asian champions were leading 1-0 at half-time against their Brazilian opponents. However, they missed several chances to go even further ahead and would come to regret it, as the Copa Libertadores winners roared back after the break.
The Saudi club simply could not maintain the same tempo in the second half and conceded three goals. "Our opponents looked more comfortable than us. Physically, we weren’t good enough in the second half," Carlos Eduardo told FIFA.com.
Al Hilal’s Brazilian captain looked exhausted as he left the pitch. Bemoaning the missed opportunity to reach the final, he admitted Flamengo were the better side. “We were really good in the first half, but things were different in the second, unfortunately. Flamengo also played at a higher pace, which was a decisive factor in their victory. They put on a great performance in the second half.
"We have to admit that we came up against strong opponents," Eduardo continued. "They play beautiful football and are at the top of their game right now. They managed to score three goals in the second half, which made it difficult for us to come back. Flamengo deserved to win."
Still something to play for
Al Hilal have now turned the Flamengo page and are looking forward to their upcoming showdown with Monterrey. It is another tough challenge but one the Saudi giants will have to overcome if they are to finish third in their maiden Club World Cup.
"Our Club World Cup adventure hasn’t ended yet," said the captain. "We have to rest now and then think about the next challenge: the third-place game. We’ll give our all to finish third, as our goal now is to end the tournament on the podium."
The task will not be easy, though, as the Asian champions face a team that made Liverpool sweat in the other semi-final, only losing to a late Roberto Firmino goal. One thing that could favour the Saudi club come Saturday is that they will have had an extra day’s rest than Monterrey.
"It’ll be another difficult game against a strong opponent. We’ll try our best to emerge victorious this time and aim to play in our usual style," said the attacking midfielder.
Despite the defeat to Flamengo, the Al Hilal player has no regrets. "We’re happy with what we’ve achieved so far at this tournament,” he said, before revealing who he will be cheering after the third-place game on Saturday: "I wish Flamengo the best of luck and hope they have a good performance against Liverpool in the final."