Club America travelled to the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2015 with high hopes of success. Sadly for them, things did not quite go according to plan, with fifth place falling some way below the expectations of a club that is the most decorated in both Mexican and CONCACAF football.
Casting his mind back to that painful experience in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, America’s experienced goalkeeper Moises Munoz said: “Everything turned out differently to the way we’d planned. It was the first time my team-mates and I had taken part in a Club World Cup.”
In reference to their elimination at the hands of Guangzhou Evergrande, which came in their opening match, he added: “We’ve learned from the mistakes we made on that occasion. The main thing is that we can’t hold back in any way at all. We have to think about what’s at stake at any given time and try not to get ahead of ourselves. We’re going to draw on that experience and make the most of it at the next Club World Cup.”
*A second chance
*Fortunately for Las Águilas, they had an immediate opportunity to secure a return to the global stage, in the shape of the 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League. One of 24 teams in the competition, they battled their way through to the final, where they sealed the title against fellow Mexicans Tigres at the Estadio Azteca on 27 April, courtesy of a 4-1 aggregate win.
“As soon as we got home to Mexico and we realised what we’d failed to do and the chance that we’d just passed up, we set about trying to make our way back,” explained the 36-year-old custodian. “Our chance to do that came in the CONCACAF Champions League, and we took it as seriously as possible so that we could retain the trophy and return to Japan in search of a better outcome.”
Few things have changed for the Mexico City outfit since winning the CONCACAF title for the seventh time and overtaking Cruz Azul as the most successful side in the competition’s history. The club have stuck to their philosophy of continuity by making few personnel changes, an approach that has brought them excellent results on the domestic scene in recent seasons. One of the few new faces at America is coach Ricardo Antonio La Volpe, who took over from Ignacio Ambriz at the end of September.
“We’re doing really well in this new phase,” said the experienced Argentinian tactician. “We’ve managed to get a better grasp of tactical concepts, which is going to stand us in good stead for the trip. We’ll have things clearer in our minds.”
*Older and wiser
*Having learned the lessons of last year’s visit to Japan, America are hoping to shine at the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup, not least because they are currently celebrating their centenary. And what better way to mark it than by winning a historic trophy?
“That’s one of our specific objectives: to finish our centenary year on a high,” said the keeper. “We’re going to be giving our all in this new adventure. The sky’s the limit and we won’t be holding anything back. We’re determined to go out and get a good result for America and for Mexico.”
Having set their goals, Club America are intent on doing themselves proud, and Munoz on making the most of this second opportunity: “We have a revenge mission coming up. Our fans are expecting us to do well, and we have the responsibility of making sure that we do and of fulfilling their dreams. We know what we want, and we’re committed too. You can expect to see a team that’s driven, determined and hungry to break new ground.”
America’s first assignment at Japan 2016 will come against the winners of the AFC Champions League in Osaka on 11 December.