After having reigned supreme in their country or continent, seven clubs will soon lock horns in the hope of holding aloft the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2013. These highly successful outfits scaled the heights by capturing some of the game’s most prestigious silverware, but the road to ultimate glory still lies ahead.
Following the official draw on Wednesday in Marrakech, one of the tournament’s two host cities, participating teams now know the names of the opponents that stand between them and the coveted trophy.
Gathered in the Grand Salon of the La Mamounia hotel, representatives of the five sides already qualified – the two remaining slots will be filled in November after the winners of the AFC and CAF Champions Leagues are determined – discovered the identity of their initial opposition, as well as the path that could lead them to a place in footballing history.
During a wonderful ceremony that was expertly overseen by Moroccan journalist Jalal Bouzrara, music, entertainment, videos and speeches paved the way for the moment for which everyone in attendance, including supporters of competing teams, had been eagerly waiting: when the draw mapped out participants’ potential destinies.
Raja Casablanca, winners of the Moroccan League and representing the host nation, and Auckland City, who clinched the OFC Champions League title earlier this year, already knew that they would get the ball rolling in a play-off for the quarter-finals on 11 December in Agadir. Indeed, fans of both outfits stoked the rivalry at the ceremony, as an impressively performed traditional ‘haka’ was met with lively Moroccan chants.
They were not, however, aware of their potential opponents in the quarter-final, which the fates decided would be Monterrey. Consequently, the other quarter-final will see the AFC Champions League winners and the CAF Champions League winners go head-to-head just a few hours earlier. These two matches will be staged on 14 December at Agadir Stadium, which can hold 45,000 fans.
The winners of the quarter-finals will advance to the last four, at which stage the two favourites will make their grand entrance. In the first semi-final, German heavyweights Bayern Munich, UEFA Champions League holders, will do battle with either the Asian kings or African champions on 17 December in Agadir.
Meanwhile, Brazilian giants Atletico Mineiro, who lifted the Copa Libertadores in July, will kick off their campaign the following day in Marrakech, against either Raja Casablanca, Auckland City or Monterrey.
The two teams that emerge victorious from these encounters will face off in the hope of claiming the tenth edition of the FIFA Club World Cup and following in the footsteps of holders Corinthians, who won last year in Japan.
To date, the trophy has always ended up in European or South American hands. Auckland, Raja, Monterrey and the eventual champions of Asia and Africa now know what route they have to take in order to upset the odds.