Argentine giants Boca Juniors booked their place in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, but they failed to turn on the style in their 1-0 win over Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel.
Midfielder Neri Cardozo scored the only goal before a crowd of 37,255 fans at the National Stadium in Tokyo, while midfielder Fabian Vargas was sent off for a second bookable offence with twenty-five minutes remaining.
Etoile started the match with significantly more attacking intent than in their 1-0 win over Mexican side Pachuca, with ex-Liverpool defender Gabriel Paletta looking shaky at the back for Boca.
Tunisian starlet Amine Chermiti was causing problems with his penetrating runs, but gradually Boca began to play their way into the match, and they opened the scoring after thirty-seven minutes when striker Rodrigo Palacio cut inside a defender and slid the ball to Neri Cardozo, who beat Etoile keeper Aymen Balbouli with an unstoppable left foot drive.
The second half was a tense affair and Boca’s cause wasn’t helped when midfielder Fabian Vargas received his marching orders from Danish referee Claus Bo Larsen. Etoile saw a golden opportunity to equalise in stoppage time go to waste when substitute Gilson Silva headed wide at the far post.
Boca will now meet the winner of tomorrow’s Togel Singapore semi-final between reigning European champions AC Milan and current Asian champions Urawa Reds, with a crowd of around 70,000 expected to descend upon Yokohama International Stadium to witness that clash.
After the match it was back to my accommodation a Nagoya, a capsule hotel.
Once again the experience can be quite daunting as with most things Japanese there are prescribed ways that things are done. I gathered immediately that my shoes should be removed and placed in a locker. Upon payment I was given a wristband with a locker key and a number. I was shown a map which showed the layout of the beds, mine was number 163.
Having placed all my clothes in the locker, I made use of the one size fits all pink shorts. The next room had washing facilities but up the steps I could see the glass door steaming up. Walking through them revealed a communal baths with hot water being pumped through artificially replicating the hot springs found outdoors around Japan.
So having observed the ritualsand thoroughly washed myself I saw that a pile of pink shorts lay discardedin the basket next to the door. Oh well, I would have looked silly going in with my shorts.
Testing the different pools I noted that one was freezing cold. I opted for the warmer version with the bubbles massaging my back. I then found the sauna, and briefly made use of the cold pool. By this stage of the evening there was no one else around so I sheepishly investigated my
surroundings and found a door through which there was a pile of towels and Japanese style pyjamas.
Now it was off to find my capsule. (A walk around the place revealed that all the capsules fitted in just two rooms). Having found it, I slid in and proceeded to look for the light switch. I found a radio with an alarm clock but no switch. Eventually I realised that an object I had felt could be a
torch. Sure enough it was. I now pulled down my blind and retired for the night. Emerging at around 10a.m. the next morning I noted that everyone else had gone, but it didn’t stop me from visiting the pool again. The hardest part of the whole experience turned out to be leaving the place.