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Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007

CLUB WORLD CUP FINAL PREVIEW

Kaka desperate for Milan win over Boca


Staff writer

AC Milan's talisman Kaka still aches from the disappointment of Milan losing the 2003 Toyota Cup to Argentina's Boca Juniors.

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AC Milan's Kaka (left) and Boca Juniors' Neri Cardozo will star in Sunday's Club World Cup final at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama. The Milanese are out to avenge their penalty defeat to the Argentines in the 2003 Toyota Cup, the forerunner to the revamped Club World Cup. AP PHOTOS

The Italian giants have a chance to avenge that defeat tonight.

Champions League winner Milan faces Copa Libertadores winner Boca in the Club World Cup final at International Stadium Yokohama, with the bragging rights of "world's best club" on the line.

In the 2003 Toyota Cup, the one-off match between the European and South American champions that was the forerunner to the current revamped competition, Boca beat Milan on penalties after the game had finished 1-1.

"I still recall the disappointment I felt after that game," Kaka told FIFA.com.

"It was a real body blow. Now, though, we have the chance to go back and make amends."

If the prospect of revenge doesn't already have the Milan players chomping at the bit, Kaka believes the number of Brazilians in the Milan's ranks certainly ups the ante. Brazil and Argentina are fierce rivals at international level.

"I also believe that with so many Brazilians in the team, this will be a sort of Brazil-Argentina clash. I really want to win this one," said the Brazilian Ballon d'Or winner.

Milan's veteran captain Paolo Maldini is one of 12 current Milan men who also played in the 2003 match and is convinced the Italians deserved to win that day.

"We played a great game and were better than the Argentinians (in 2003), but we didn't convert our chances and ended up losing on penalties," Maldini told FIFA.com.

Another survivor, Cafu, cares more about the tonight's result than the opponent.

"I don't like to apply the term revenge to football. All I'm thinking about is how nice it would be to win the final, regardless of our opponent," said Cafu, who lifted the World Cup for Brazil at the Yokohama stadium in 2002.

Milan beat Urawa Reds 1-0 in their semifinal, also in Yokohama, on Thursday courtesy of a late goal by Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf.

Boca edged past Tunisia's Etoile Sahel by the same scoreline in their semifinal at Tokyo's National Stadium on Wednesday, Neri Cardozo scoring a first-half winner.

With both teams bursting with quality, a penalty shootout is a distinct possibility, something that doesn't phase Sebastian Battaglia, Boca's only survivor from 2003 and who missed a penalty in the shootout.

"If I'm in the final and have the chance, I'll take another penalty kick. Anyway, I just hope Boca win. At the end of the day. that's all that matters," said Battaglia.

Sao Paulo beat Liverpool in the 2005 final in the revamped competition and Internacional upset Barcelona by the same scoreline last year.

Both Boca and Milan have won three Intercontinental-Toyota Cup finals.

Meanwhile, Urawa Reds face Tunisia's Etoile Sahel in the third-place playoff at Yokohama International Stadium on Sunday before the final.



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