Pachuca playing for themselves, not Mexico

TOKYO - Mexico's Pachuca insist they are playing for themselves at the Club World Cup and not to restore the battered pride of their country's national team.

The Mexicans have sufficient incentive to beat Egypt's Al Ahly on Saturday in the quarter-finals of the December 11-21 FIFA tournament, having tripped at the first hurdle in 2007.

"The national team is the national team -- Pachuca is Pachuca," Pachuca coach Enrique Meza told reporters on Tuesday.

"We came to Japan to write a new chapter in the club's history. We represent Mexico but there is no extra pressure because of the national side's situation."

Mexico coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has suffered a firestorm of criticism from the country's media after an embarrassing 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat by Honduras last month.

They sneaked into the last round of CONCACAF qualifiers on goal difference but former England coach Eriksson has faced growing calls for his resignation.

"Our goal at the Club World Cup is to do better than we did last year," added Meza. "We want to represent CONCACAF with more honour this time. It's nothing to do with the national side."

Pachuca were beaten 1-0 by Tunisia's Etoile Sahel in Tokyo last year but are confident of setting up a lucrative semi-final with Ecuador's LDU.

"We're a better team than we were last year," Pachuca's goalkeeper and captain Miguel Calero said. "We plan on reaching the final this time."


The Colombian, winking throughout the news conference at Mexican journalists from beneath his baseball cap, added: "We're dreaming of winning the title."

With European champions Manchester United the red-hot favourites and Libertadores Cup holders LDU also barring their way, Divine intervention could be Pachuca's best hope.

"By God's grace we've got a second chance," said Calero. "It's up to us not to waste it. Losing to Sahel last year could be a blessing for us.

"It was a chastening experience for us but we came out mentally stronger because of it. We arrived in Japan 10 days ago so we're acclimatised to the cold and the jet-leg is gone."

Ahly, however, believe their current side is one of the club's strongest ever and have ambitions of their own in their third Club World Cup appearance.

"It's a fact that we are much stronger than last year," Ahly's Portuguese coach Manuel Jose told reporters. "If we beat Pachuca and have some luck we could get to the final."