Morocco’s Raja Club Athletic and New Zealand side Auckland City FC kick off the FIFA Club World Cup 2013 this Wednesday gunning for a victory that would be a twofold boon. For both clubs, a win would be a huge confidence booster and would break a run of poor results both in their domestic leagues and in this competition.
Raja Casablanca-Auckland City, Agadir Stadium,
Wednesday 11 December, 19.30 (local time)
Getting back to winning ways after a month of disappointment is the mission for Raja Casablanca in the tournament hosted in their own county. The Moroccan champions are seeking to bounce back from a string of defeats that triggered the dismissal of coach Mohamed Fakhir, the man who had led the team to the domestic title. Making progress in the competition would give one of Morocco’s most historical clubs, who are taking part in the Club World Cup for the second time, an enormous lift. It would also be welcome news for a country that has been starved of success in international football competitions in recent times.
It’s a similar story for Auckland City. Despite being top of the New Zealand championship, the team arrives in Morocco hoping to wipe out the memory of three opening-game eliminations at previous Club World Cups (2006, 2011 and 2012). It goes without saying Auckland would like to repeat their 2009 effort, when they won two matches in the United Arab Emirates. Putting on a good show in a country where the fans are fanatical about their football is good motivation for Ramon Tribulietx’s charges. The coach is still trying to hit upon the right formula following the recent departure of key players such as Albert Riera and Manel Exposito.
2 – Auckland City and Raja Casablanca have taken part in six FIFA Club World Cups between them, but have clocked up just two victories in ten matches. Both came in 2009, when the New Zealanders achieved a historic fifth place. The Moroccans took part in the 2000 tournament, losing all three of their games.
“Auckland City have played in this competition several times and have achieved some good results. We’ll be giving it our all to win. Anything but victory would be a huge disappointment for the Moroccan people, who are fed up with defeats. We have our hearts set on overcoming this first hurdle,” Raja Casablanca defender Mohamed Oulhaj.
“We’ll be playing in a football-mad country. The atmosphere will be amazing and we need to be at the top of our game. Raja are one of Africa’s most historical clubs and have been national champions many times. We have to enjoy the experience, but we want to be competitive and play well,” Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx.