Corinthians coach Tite has talked up his side’s chances of winning the FIFA Club World Cup after their 1-0 victory over Al Ahly.
A single first-half goal from Paulo Guerrero was enough to secure victory for the Brazilian giants in the semi-final of the international club competition, despite a resurgent second-half display from the Egyptian team.
Speaking after the match, Tite praised his side’s dominance and focus to win.
“There is a concrete possibility to get the title now, but this should not distract the players. Yes, we can be champions now, and this – again – is a huge responsibility,” he said.
“We had a great first half, and I am extremely satisfied because we did not concede any chance. In football the two halves can be really different games, but in the end we won. We had to come out of this game with a result, and as the time passed we were focused on that.
“We were dominating the game in the first half also thanks to the supporters, we had to respond positively to them. They helped a lot, they gave us a huge boost, but of course the pressure also increased.”
Al Ahly boss Hossam El-Badry was not bitter in defeat, but he believes his side were better than the eventual winners over 90 minutes.
“Corinthians are a big club, a famous team. It was an honour to play against them and I am happy with our performance,” he said.
“Of course I regret the loss, however, as we made some mistakes, which hindered our expected playing style but, in all honesty, I believe we played better than Corinthians and we deserved to win.
“The overall level of football is still different between us and them. Corinthians did not give us any space, we did make mistakes but they play at another level compared with Egypt and Africa. We were aggressive, but we could not finish well.”
Corinthians stars Paulinho and Danilo hinted to TV Globo of the huge pressure on the players’ shoulders at the moment, and admitted that the victory was hard-fought.
“There’s no easy match nowadays,” Danilo said. “Their team had quality and knew how to pass the ball.
“They didn’t have possession during the first half, but came forward in the second. We wasted too many attacks in the second half, but did (well) in defence.”
Paulinho added: “There was anxiety, which is normal, from players and the fans. But we wanted to reach the final, we achieved this and know we must work hard to have a good game.
“We’ll have to retain more possession, and have balance throughout the match. We have to retain the ball in both the first and second half.
“There’s no such thing as picking the opponent. Whoever comes, I’m sure it’ll be a great final.”
The semi-final triumph means that Corinthians will face either English giants Chelsea or North American champions Monterrey, hailing from Mexico, in the final, being held in Japan.