CARLOS Cuellar has promised Sunderland will not be taking tomorrow’s game against Groningen lightly, despite failing to reach the Peace Cup final.
The Black Cats face the Eredivisie side after the Dutchmen lost 2-1 to Hamburg last night.
But although it may be the battle for the wooden spoon, the Spaniard says it is a golden opportunity to improve match fitness and catch the eye.
“Of course I’m disappointed not to be in my second Peace Cup final in a row,” he said. “We are all disappointed not to make the final.
“We felt we were a little unlucky not to get something out of a very tight game against Seongnam.
“We did everything we could in that match and now we have to do everything we can in the next one.
“It is for third and fourth place in the competition – not to win the Peace Cup – but it is still very important to us and we will give just as much effort. We really need to improve our fitness for the season and this is the way to do it.
“On top of that, we want to give the fans who came here a good performance and a win.”
Cuellar was pleased to make his Sunderland debut on Thursday, coming on as a substitute on the hour, and is hopeful of his first start tomorrow as he looks to build towards the peak fitness he says he will need next season.
He told the Echo: “Whatever the result, Thursday’s game was a good hard workout for us and Sunday’s needs to be too.
“Obviously from my point of view I want to get as sharp as possible as quickly as possible because there will be real competition in the Sunderland defence next season. I love the fact I have such a challenge here at the club in terms of having good defenders here.
“I am here to be successful but I also want Sunderland to be successful and in order to do that we need a good strong squad. You look at John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Michael Turner, Titus Bramble and so on and you realise we have some really quality defenders who will all want to play.
“They are good players and they will push me, which is what I want. Together I hope we can have a very good season.”