- FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 kicks off Wednesday with Al Jazira vs Auckland
- Mohamed Fawzi missed the opening match of UAE 2009 due to injury
- *The 27-year old defender aiming to make amends at UAE 2017 with Al Jazira *
Wednesday 6 December will not only be a historic day for UAE side Al Jazira, who will be making their maiden appearance at a FIFA Club World Cup, it also marks the end of an eight-year wait for the club's defender Mohamed Fawzi.
In December 2009, Fawzi was on the substitutes' bench as former club Al Ahli lost 2-0 to New Zealand's Auckland City in the opening game of UAE 2009 – with injury having denied him the chance to be part of that global tournament.
Following his move to Al Jazira last year, Fawzi helped the club win the UAE national title and book a place at this week’s Club World Cup, the third to be hosted by the Gulf state. The 27-year-old now has a fresh chance to participate in the prestigious competition.
"At both national and club level, a World Cup is a great opportunity for every participating player," Fawzi told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. "I’d recovered from a foot injury in 2009 but was still not ready to play at that tournament. I’d hoped to be able to play back then but I’d no chance. Now I'll participate after a long wait."
On the personal importance of playing at the FIFA Club World Cup, Fawzi said: "Each player tries to make history in his football journey. Participation in a world cup is great for me and my football career, especially since I and my team-mates will be representing the UAE. This will hopefully be a good foundation for UAE football."
*Chance to make amends *Fawzi will have a chance not only to participate in the tournament but also to avenge the defeat of his former team-mates. "Revenge in football is good," he quipped of the new encounter with Auckland City. "The match will give me an opportunity to take revenge, especially as it comes after all those years of waiting."
While Al Jazira will be making their Club World Cup debut this week, and in the process become the third side to represent the UAE in the competition, Auckland City have a wealth of experience at the tournament and will be making a record ninth appearance this year.
Mohamed Fawzi in brief
- He started his football career with Al Ahli Club in Dubai
- He played for Al Ahli, Baniyas, and Al Ain before moving to Al Jazira in 2016
- He played five games with the UAE youth team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009
Yet Fawzi is optimistic that his team will be up to the challenge. "Perhaps we didn't get off to a good start at the UAE league, but the Club World Cup is a different story. We'll try to fly the flag for UAE football and give a good impression. We'll show the world that we're here and that we have players capable of competing in any international competition."
Nevertheless, Fawzi was complimentary about his New Zealand opponents. "Auckland are a respectable team who have pace and a good playing style. This is going to be an exciting game. We're highly motivated, and we hope to come away with a positive result."
*Organisational success *The 2009 edition of the Club World Cup that Fawzi missed was the first to be hosted by the UAE. They staged it again in 2010, and this year's edition will be the third to be held in the Middle Eastern nation. The UAE also hosted FIFA U-17 World Cup 2013 and a number of other FIFA tournaments.
Fawzi praised his country for this achievement, saying: "This is the third time we’ll be hosting the Club World Cup, which means we did it successfully the previous two times. We're proud of this. We're pleased to welcome the world's football stars. This is a great motivation for UAE football and the country as a whole."
He views the tournament as "an opportunity for local fans to see international stars from the world's greatest clubs in their country. I hope fans will turn up in huge numbers and leave a great impression on the watching world."
With our conversation coming to an end, he urged all UAE fans to get behind Al Jazira. "Football fans showed their beautiful side this season. Naturally, Al Jazira fans will be our greatest supporters, but since we represent the whole country, we call on all football fans in the UAE to get behind us. They’re the ones who can make the difference in this tournament."
When the sun sets this Wednesday, fans will fill the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain City, where, after eight years of waiting, Fawzi will finally have a chance to show his skills to the world.