Qatar’s al-Sadd want FIFA to let them field a team of 16 players when they face European kings Barcelona in Thursday’s Club World Cup semi-final in Japan.
“I’ve got a plan,” al-Sadd’s Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati told reporters with a twinkle in his eye.
“If they agree to my request we are allowed 15 or 16 players on the field, I think we have a chance!”
Barcelona, bidding to win their second Club World Cup in three years, are expected to overpower the Asian champions when they meet in Yokohama.
Sunday’s final should feature the Spanish giants and Brazil’s Santos, who face Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol in Wednesday’s first semi-final in Toyota.
“Barcelona are the biggest team in the world,” sighed al-Sadd captain Abdulla Koni. “If Real Madrid can’t beat Barcelona, how can we?”
Barca flew out to Japan immediately after a crucial 3-1 ‘Clasico’ win over Real Madrid on Saturday, moving the Spanish champions above their fierce rivals to the top of La Liga.
Al-Sadd beat Tunisia’s Esperance 2-1 in the weekend quarter-finals to earn a crack at Barca, although their game plan appears to be damage limitation.
“We have to try our best,” said Koni. “We came here to learn. Realistically we only have a 10 percent chance of beating Barcelona. When they play us, they have to play slowly.”
Al-Sadd defender Nadir Belhadj also appeared in a quandary about stopping Barca’s Argentine wizard Lionel Messi.
“Messi and Barca are on another planet,” the Algerian told FIFA.com. “It’s possible to guess what Messi is going to do but actually stopping him from doing it is another matter.”
Even Brazil’s much-coveted striker Neymar said facing Barca in the final on Sunday would be a daunting prospect.
“I don’t think there are any particular tactics you use against Barcelona,” shrugged the 19-year-old pin-up. “You just have to pray, ask for God's help and give it your best shot.”