EXCLUSIVE: The Asian champions had been locked in a dispute over bonus payments, but two of their star players have insisted there was no chance of missing the tournament
By Kris Voakes in Rabat
Western Sydney Wanderers were never prepared to boycott the FIFA Club World Cup during the recent pay dispute, according to two of their star players.
Reports in Australia suggested the Asian champions might withdraw from the prestigious tournament in Morocco as their players held out for a larger share of prize money.
But an undisclosed compromise was reached on Thursday between the club and the first-team squad, and striker Tomi Juric has told Goal that Saturday’s quarter-final clash with CONCACAF champions Cruz Azul was never in doubt.
“I always knew in my mind that we’d play the game, I never really thought about anything else to be honest,” explained the scorer of the only goal in the AFC Champions League final against Al-Hilal.
“Those kind of things happen in football but they always get resolved. There was no panic or drama to be made of it because we knew as players that sooner or later it was going to get resolved.”
And midfielder Iacopo La Rocca says he and his team-mates would never have risked a unique chance to showcase their talents against Real Madrid should they beat Cruz Azul.
“Everything is fine regarding those things. All the players want to play this tournament because it’s the best tournament in the world,” added the Italian.
“I don’t think there was ever a thought that we wouldn’t play on Saturday because we also have the opportunity to play against Real Madrid.
“The semi-final is a big target because you play against Real Madrid only once in your career, if you are lucky. We are focused on Saturday, but if we win it will be very big for all the players.”
The quarter-final against Cruz Azul kicks-off at 20:30CET in Rabat on Saturday, with the winners taking on Madrid in Tuesday’s first semi-final.