TOYOTA, Japan — Monterrey captain Luis Perez knows anything can happen at the Club World Cup and is hoping his team can create some surprises, starting with Sunday's quarterfinal against Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol.
Perez played in the 2000 Club World Cup in Brazil when his Necaxa team pulled off an upset by beating Real Madrid in a penalty shootout to win the third-place playoff.
A win against Kashiwa on Sunday would see Mexico's Monterrey face South American champions Santos in the semifinals, but Perez refuses to look beyond his team's quarterfinal against the J-League champions.
"Before we fight against Santos we need to focus on Kashiwa," Perez said. "Our team is very good at controlling the ball and we have a very good defense so we have to use this to our advantage against Reysol."
Kashiwa, coached by Brazilian and former Santos player Nelsinho, beat Oceania representatives Auckland City 2-0 on Thursday to reach the final eight.
"Kashiwa is a very strong team so it will be a match between two strong teams," Monterrey coach Victor Vucetich said. "The Japanese team is very organized and disciplined."
Monterrey collected 16 points from a possible 18 in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League, then beat Real Salt Lake of the United States 3-2 on aggregate in April's final to qualify for the Club World Cup for the first time.
No CONCACAF team has ever reached the final of the Club World Cup, but Perez thinks his team is capable of making history at this year's tournament.
"Yes, it's true that a team from the continent has never reached the final, but we are very motivated and focused and want to make it to the final," Perez said. "We have to win two matches. I know it is very tough and very challenging, but we have many skilled players on our team."
Champions League winner Barcelona and South American champion Santos of Brazil are the seeded teams in the tournament and enter in the semifinal stage from Dec. 15.
The Club World Cup, which features seven sides from FIFA's six continental confederations, is back in Japan for the first time since 2008 after two editions in the United Arab Emirates.
African champion Esperance Sportive De Tunis meet Asian Champions League winner Al-Sadd of Qatar in the second of the two quarterfinals on Sunday.