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Yokohama: FIFA Club World Cup 2016 runners-up Kashima Antlers coach Masatada Ishii is confident that the historic achievement and tenacity of his side will inspire small clubs around the world.

The J.League winners, who became the first Asian club to advance to the final of a FIFA Club World Cup at the recently concluded Japan 2016, forced European champions Real Madrid into a 2-2 draw at the end of regulation time on Sunday.

Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo added a double during extra time to end the game 4-2 but not without Kashima giving a spirited display to become the first Asian side to finish runners-up in the tournament.

“It has only been 25 years since Japanese football turned professional, so compared to the other teams that are here, we don't have such a long history,” he said.

“We are from a very small city, and at the start of the J.League we were told it was 99.9999 percent impossible for us to become a J.League club.

“We bet on this 0.0001 percent and we were able to become a professional club. The fact that a club like us can represent Japan in a tournament like this is an encouragement for small clubs around the world.”

Photo: FIFA/Getty Images

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