Tensions building up for Milan

2007-12-11 19:54:00 Xinhua English

BEIJING, Dec. 12 -- A sulking striker and a manager apparently facing the bullet hardly provide a solid base from which to launch an assault on the Club World Cup.

AC Milan's preparations have been far from smooth, despite red-carpet treatment in Japan and the avalanche of awards recently bestowed on playmaker Kaka.

The European champion takes on Japan's Urawa Reds in its semifinal tomorrow with Brazilian Ronaldo still injured and increasingly isolated from the squad.

The former world player of the year, out with a calf strain, has been cutting a forlorn figure, visiting the spa of the team's luxury hotel while his teammates train in Yokohama.

Speculation that Milan want to bring in former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho to replace Carlo Ancelotti at the end of the season has done little to ease the tensions with the club.

"The tension and the pressure are mounting," said Massimo Ambrosini, Milan's de facto captain with Paolo Maldini, 39, rarely starting in his final season.

"I feel them of course. We have had to wait a week for the semifinal which is too long. We all having the feeling that this is a date with destiny.

"It would be huge to take such an important trophy as the Club World Cup back to Italy with us."

An expected win over Asian champion Urawa will set up a likely final against South American Libertadores Cup holder Boca Juniors in Yokohama on Dec. 16.

Boca has promised to tear apart Tunisian side Etoile Sahel's defense in today's semifinal.

(Source: Shanghai Daily/Agencies)