Grieving Benitez targets final push

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The application that has enabled Rafael Benitez to scale the peak of his profession will be on display as Liverpool attempt to win the Club World Championship tomorrow, with the Anfield manager electing to remain in Yokohama for the final against São Paulo of Brazil rather than attend his father's funeral in Madrid.

Francisco Benitez died on Wednesday while the second of his three children was preparing the European champions for their semi-final victory over Deportivo Saprissa. The Liverpool manager was prepared for the news before he left for Japan but having discussed the logistics of returning home with his family decided to remain in the Far East.

Benitez said: "I was in Madrid a couple of times because my father has been ill for the last few months. I was talking to my mother, sister and brother when my father died. They couldn't delay the funeral, so I decided to stay here."

It was from the 74-year-old former businessman and journalist that Benitez received his passion for football, although it was on his mother's advice that he decided to support Real Madrid as a youngster rather than the Atletico team favoured by his father. Fifa are considering holding a minute's silence before tomorrow's game in honour of Benitez senior, and his son added: "I will go and see my mother next week so for me it is perhaps better to concentrate on working. You can be very upset but if you are working sometimes you can just think about your work. My mother is there though and I will try to be with her as soon as possible. The only thing I can do now is try to do my best for my team and think about my father."

The Liverpool striker Djibril Cissé has insisted he has no intention of leaving Anfield during the January transfer window, despite Marseilles' long-standing interest in the French international and his failure to secure a regular first team place this season.

The 24-year-old, who forged a productive partnership with Peter Crouch in the 3-0 defeat of Saprissa, has been strongly linked with a return to France but declared yesterday: "I love Liverpool. The mentality in the dressing room is different to France. It's just friendly and happy. I have great friends and great team-mates and I've bought a great house. I just got married, so why would I want to leave?"

Liverpool (probable): Reina; Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Traoré, Gerrard, Hamann, Alonso, Riise, Crouch, Cisse.

São Paulo (probable): Rogerio, Cicinho, Fabao, Edcarlos, Lugano, Junior, Mineiro, Josue, Danilo, Amoroso, Aloisio.

* Sydney FC produced a surprise 2-1 win over African champions Egypt's Al Ahly yesterday to finish fifth in the Club World Championship. David Carney snatched the winner in the 66th minute in Tokyo. The former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke headed in a free-kick from Steve Corica to give Sydney the lead before Emad Motab equalised.

Comments