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Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007

CLUB WORLD CUP FINAL

Milanese hail Kaka as 'best in the world'


Staff writer

YOKOHAMA — AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti and captain Paolo Maldini were united in their praise of Kaka after the Brazilian's virtuoso display in the Club World Cup final.

News photo
AC Milan forward Kaka scores past Boca 'keeper Mauricio Caranta for his team's third goal in the Club World Cup final in Yokohama on Sunday evening. Kaka also set up two goals for Filippo Inzaghi in the 4-2 victory. AP PHOTO

The elegant forward laid on two goals for Filippo Inzaghi and scored a delightful individual effort as Milan beat Boca Juniors 4-2 to collect a record fourth club world title.

Kaka underlined his reputation as the No. 1 player in the world ahead of what was his expected coronation as FIFA World Player of the Year in Zurich on Monday.

"Kaka is the best player in the world," said teammate Maldini after the final Sunday.

"Every time the match is important he is there."

Kaka won the prestigious Ballon d'Or award — European Footballer of the Year — award earlier this month ahead of Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

His stunning display against Boca meant the Rossoneri avenged their penalty-shootout defeat to the Argentines in the 2003 Toyota Cup, the forerunner to the Club World Cup.

"Kaka has helped us wipe out the bad memory of 2003 and he proved here that he fully deserved to win the Ballon d'Or award," said Ancelotti.

"Winning this trophy was our goal. It's a big success and we were confident we could win."

Milan's Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf believes the 25-year-old hasn't yet reached his peak.

"Kaka is an unbelievable player and he can only get better," said Seedorf.

Boca coach Miguel Russo also pinpointed Kaka as the deciding factor between European and South American champions.

"Milan had more opportunities and more luck and Kaka proved to be the difference with the way he exploited the tight spaces," said Russo.

Osieck praises Reds

YOKOHAMA — Urawa Reds coach Holger Osieck set aside his differences with striker Washington after the Brazilian helped the Saitama side claim third place at the Club World Cup in his last game for the club.

Osieck and Washington have not always seen eye-to-eye but the German coach was generous in his praise after the Brazilian scored two goals and the first spot-kick in the shootout as the Reds beat Etoile Sahel on penalties.

"Washington is our top scorer and you always rely on people who can finish," said Osieck. "I give him all the credit he deserves."

Washington is returning to play in Brazil and signed off with two brilliant headers as the Reds played out a 2-2 draw with the Tunisians before penalties.

Osieck, who led Urawa to the AFC Champions League title in November before watching his side fall apart in the latter stages of the J. League, handing the title to Kashima Antlers, said he was pleased his men could finish the season on a high note.

"My players showed great heart and great commitment and I am very proud of this team, although I have to admit that we gave away two goals that made it difficult and took it to penalties," the German said.

"But all in all we can look back at a successful season," he said.



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