Gary Cahill trained for the first time in the Yokohama International Stadium today (Wednesday). As kick-off draws near for the start of Chelsea’s quest to win the Club World Cup, it only emphasises the significance of his decision to join the club less than 12 months ago.
The central defender already has significant reasons to value that choice, having won the Champions League and been part of a victorious FA Cup campaign, even though injury did deny him a place in the Wembley final. Now as he hopes for selection to play in the stadium that hosted the World Cup final a decade ago, he can feel the hunger for silverware once again.
‘When I came to Chelsea I came to win trophies and this is a big opportunity to do that,’ Cahill says.
‘It is one that doesn’t come around very often and we have travelled all this way and we want to go as far as we can. Since we have been over here we have realised how big it is and we have some Brazilians in our squad and it is huge for them. It has sunk in now and this is why you sign for a big club.’
Cahill may have an impressive six goals to his name this season but his main job against Monterrey will be to keep the Mexicans from scoring, and the defence is feeling capable of doing so.
‘Since Rafa [Benitez] has come in he has tightened us up as a unit. We have had a couple of clean sheets and we haven’t let in too many goals in the past couple of weeks, touchwood, so hopefully that can continue. It has given us a platform to build from and we have started to get some good results.
‘When he first came in we were playing a lot of games so it was hard for him to get his points across at first because we were playing every couple of days, but now we are fully aware of what is expected and the strategy he wants us to adopt.’
The 26-year-old reports that by staying up late and getting up late in the first few days in Japan, jet lag has been overcome. On Wednesday the final hours before going to bed are for studying opponents Monterrey.
‘They are a good footballing team,’ he notes. ‘They get the ball down and play and also have the option of playing long. They have a big striker and can play off the second balls.
‘They have some talented footballers and they did well in the last game so it is going to be a tough test for us. They could cause us some problems so we will have to be fully focused leading in to the game.
‘We will know a lot about them after our preparation for the game is completed. We will be well aware of them come kick-off.’