FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007 Match6, vsEtoile Sahel   

FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007 Match6(Match for third place) on 16 December 2007 16:00 Kick off at International Stadium Yokohama

Match Result
Etoile Sportive du Sahel(Tunisia) 2(2PK4)2 Urawa Reds

Goals:5min Sabeur Frej(Etoile),35min WASHINGTON,70min WASHINGTON,75min Amine Chermiti(Etoile)


Comment of the Holger OSIECK(Team-Manager)
First of all, I am very happy. There is a big meaning to be third place and it is a great result for the team, club, related parties and all the members of Urawa Reds. Moreover, there is a huge meaning for our splendid supporters. They showed great support today and we also wanted to win for them.
Regarding today’s game, we needed to keep a close eye on player No.7 (Gilson Silva). The opponent had one day more than us to rest but we fought well. However, we shouldn’t have conceded the second goal that led us to the penalty shoot out. Still, we fought till the penalty shoot out with a strong will to win. It was a similar situation as the semi-final of ACL. It was the 56th game of the season and we earned this result by putting all our strength. The game showed the potential of the team. I think the players exercised their full potential mentally and technically.

Top Three in the World!

Reds’ march out into the world continues! Asian champions Urawa Reds have now become the first Asian team ever to win third place at the FIFA Club World Cup. Reds’ triumph in a thrilling third place match against African champions Etoile Sportive du Sahel of Tunisia was sealed 4-2 on penalties at the end of a see-saw 2-2 battle in front of 53,363 fans at the Yokohama International Stadium. It provided a fitting climax to aseason that is going to be remembered for a very long time in the history of Urawa Reds.

Reds faced an uphill task on the day after Sabeur Frej converted an early penalty but Washington hit back with headers either side of half time. Speedy striker Amine Chermiti levelled the score again before the finish but it was Reds’ keeper Ryota Suzuki who had the last word in the shootout. Washington made an emotional farewell in his last match in a Reds shirt by finishing as the tournament’s top scorer with three goals.

Reds came into the match with several players sidelined by injury, including Tulio, Tatsuya Tanaka, Shinji Ono and, still not fully recovered but on the bench, Satoshi Horinouchi. The team was lifted, however, by the return of skipper Nobuhisa Yamada, starting this time tucked behind strikers Washington and Yuichiro Nagai after having come on late in the game against AC Milan. The wings were entrusted to Takahito Soma on the left and Hajime Hosogai on the right, with Makoto Hasebe and Keita Suzuki holding rear midfield and Nene, Yuki Abe and Keisuke Tsuboi forming the back three.

Reds started brightly with Nagai and Soma winning three corners in the first three minutes of play. Etoile Sportive du Sahel surged straight back on the counter-attack, however, and won a penalty after only five minutes when Tsuboi was judged to have felled Chermiti. That earned Tsuboi a yellow card and, although Tsuzuki got a hand to the ball, Frej made no mistake from the spot.

Reds kept their heads and maintained the pressure but it was the worst possible start against a team with Etoile Sportive du Sahel’s strong defensive discipline and penchant for the counter-attack. Reds won a lot of possession in the opponents’ half, with Nagai especially covering a huge amount of ground, but struggled to find an effective route into the box. Nagai unleashed a shot from 20 yards that was easily saved by keeper Aymen Balbouli. Then Tsuzuki had to punch away a hard cross by Khaled Melliti, always a dangerous presence behind roaming strikers Chermiti and Mahdi Ben Dhifallah.

Holger Osieck took the opportunity to switch his players around while Chermiti briefly left the pitch for treatment on the half hour. Hosogai now moved to left rear midfield; Hasebe stepped up from there to take up Yamada’s post; and Yamada went wide on the right where Hosogai had been.

Hosogai’s defensive qualities, Hasebe’s dribbling going forward and Yamada’s dynamic wing play yielded swift results. The reward came 35minutes into the match. A loose ball fell to Soma and he reacted with a quick high ball into the box that fell perfectly for Washington’s header at the far post.

Reds were level and both teams were ready for more. Washington hit the woodwork 5 minutes before half time. Reds then survived a scary goalmouth scene at a corner kick, with Tsuzuki saving Frej’s header as the ball came off the post. The honours were evenly shared as the teams went in at half time.

Whereas Reds had dominated possession in the first half, 62% against 38%, Etoile Sportive du Sahel came out more aggressively after the break. By the end of the match, those figures had changed to 47% for Etoile Sportive du Sahel against 53% for Reds. Likewise, Reds were 6-4 ahead on shots by the break. At the finish, it was 15-12 the other way.

The African champions’ determination to win this match was evident from the restart. Mejdi Traoui fired narrowly over the bar. Then Etoile Sportive du Sahel manager Bertrand Marchand brought on a third striker,Gilson Silva, playing him wide on the left and constricting Yamada’s forays forward. A free kick by Mehdi Meriah almost connected again with Frej at the far post.

Reds’ break came after 70 minutes when Soma won a free kick on the edge of the box. Nagai floated in a twisting ball and Washington again scored with a header. It was against the run of play, and Etoile Sportive du Sahel struck Reds’ woodwork moments later, but Reds were now in the driving seat.

Or so it seemed. Etoile Sportive du Sahel’s 75th minute equaliser was the work of one man, Amine Chermiti. Beating Nene to a long ball, Chermiti momentarily fell but regained his feet in time to beat Tsuzuki to the ball as well and tap it into the empty net from a narrow angle.

That was how it remained. Abe and Ben Dhifallah both had headers well saved. Yamada powered forward on the wing and crossed superbly for Nagai, who couldn’t quite control the shot. As the game wound down, Marchand prepared for the penalty shootout by bringing on Bassem Ben Nasr for Ben Dhifallah and Ahmed Jaouachi for keeper Balbouli.

Washington made no mistake with the first kick, sending Jaouachi the wrong way and slotting the ball into the left corner. Mohamed Ali Nafkha hit the post with Etoile Sportive du Sahel’s first shot, giving Reds the edge, and the next four kickers (Abe and Nagai for Reds and Saif Ghezal and late substitute Ben Nasr for Etoile Sportive du Sahel), all scored. Hosogai made it 4-2 with a powerful strike to the left. Reds’ third place finish and the prize money of 2.5 million U.S. dollars were then sealed when Tsuzuki stopped Traoui’s shot with his legs.

Etoile Sportive du Sahel: Aymen Balbouli (Ahmed Jaouachi 93), Saif Ghezal, Radhouan Falhi, Amine Chermiti, Mehdi Meriah, Sabeur Frej, Mejdi Traoui, Mohamed Ali Nafkha, Khaled Melliti (Gilson Silva 58), Moussa Narry, Mahdi Ben Dhifallah (Bassem Ben Nasr 90).

Urawa Reds: Tsuzuki, Tsuboi, Hosogai, Nene, Yamada, Nagai, Suzuki, Soma, Hasebe, Washington, Abe.