Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol know they must stop hot-shot teenaged striker Neymar if they want to upset Brazil's Santos in Wednesday's Club World Cup semi-final in Toyota.
"Everywhere in the world people talk about Neymar," Kashiwa's Brazilian manager Nelsinho told reporters on Tuesday.
"He is not just making headlines in Brazil. He has exceptional talent and class, all the tools to become the best player in the world."
The 19-year-old Neymar, recently described by Pele as the world's best player, is not the only opponent on Nelsinho's mind, however, as he dreams of producing a shock win.
"Neymar may be a superstar but Santos have others like [Paulo Henrique] Ganso, Elano - the list goes on and on, all the amazing attacking players they have," Nelsinho said.
With European kings Barcelona, led by Argentine wizard Lionel Messi, expected to overpower Qatar's Al Sadd in the other semi-final on Thursday, a mouth-watering final awaits either Santos or Reysol in Yokohama at the weekend.
Nelsinho, sacked as coach of Santos in 2005 following a 7-1 hammering by Corinthians, refused to write off his Japanese side's chances.
"I will block out any personal feelings I have for Santos and do the best job I can for Reysol," said the 61-year-old. "I respect their quality but we will go out there to win."
Reysol beat amateurs Auckland City in their opening game and Mexico's Monterrey on penalties in the quarter-finals to become the third Japanese side to reach the Club World Cup semi-finals.
However, Santos, and Neymar in particular, could have a field day in Toyota.
Santos coach Muricy Ramalho hailed Neymar's talent as "absurd" and said he was already as good as some of the game's greats.
"He is on their level, yes," he said when asked about players such as fellow Brazilians Zico and Rivelino, and French World Cup-winner Zinedine Zidane.
"I'm someone who is normally hesitant about giving players labels like that. But a great player is a genius who sees play unfold before others do and that's rare.
"The best I saw was Zico. Pele doesn't count - he was on a level of his own.
"Zico had all the fundamentals - he could head, dribble, shoot well with both feet, had great vision and was an athlete. This is a great. Neymar is on this level; the way that he plays is absurd."comments