The six winners of the respective premier club competitions in each confederation are ready to do battle in the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005, which kicks off on 11 December with the grand final taking place a week later.
Squad Lists (text file)
Squad Lists (excel file)
A total of 138 players from no fewer than 20 different countries are ready to make it big in Japan and show the world just what they can do. Brazil is the best represented country with 26 footballers followed by Costa Rica with 23, thanks entirely to Deportivo Saprissa and their policy of signing only native or naturalised Costa Ricans.
In stark contrast to the Central American side, European champions Liverpool are undoubtedly the most cosmopolitan of the teams taking part, with a truly polyglot squad made up of 10 different nationalities. As well as the English contingent, the Reds' line-up features players from Germany, Australia, Spain, France, Finland, Ireland, Mali, Norway and Poland, all of which makes you wonder what language coach Rafael Benítez uses when barking out instructions from the sidelines.
The tournament of champions will also see three veterans of the competition take to the field. Pedrinho of Brazil, now plying his trade with Al Ittihad, was a member of the Vasco da Gama side that lost to Corinthians on penalties in the final of the FIFA Club World Championship Brazil 2000. Joining him in Japan will be Liverpool's Fernando Morientes, who wore the colours of Real Madrid, and Dwight Yorke, who turned out in 2000 with then-European champions Manchester United and is back this time with newly crowned OFC champions Sydney FC.
Yorke's Sydney team-mate Kazu Miura is the oldest player taking part in the tournament, having just been snapped up by the Australian outfit at the ripe old age of 38. At the other end of the scale, 17-year-olds Wade Oostendorp, another Sydney player, and Sao Paulo's new sensation Denilson will be the youngest on view.
The voice of experience
Among the six sides taking part, Sydney have the highest average age and Liverpool the lowest. Although footballing maturity is dependent to some extent on a player's age, there is no question that international experience is more of a factor and some of the participants in Japan have bags of that to fall back on. Thirteen have played in one FIFA World Cup™ and another six have graced the world's showpiece football tournament on two occasions.
However, it is the men on the bench who have the most impressive career records of all. Deportivo Saprissa coach Hernán Medford appeared in two FIFA World Cups with Costa Rica and his counterpart at Al Ittihad, Romania's Anghel Iordanescu, racked up three FIFA World Cups as a player with the Romanian team and another two as the country's coach.
Not to be outdone is Sydney FC manager Pierre Littbarski. Capped 73 times by Germany, Littbarski represented his country in three FIFA World Cup finals, picking up a winners medal at Italia 90, and his eyes still light up when he talks about lifting the famous trophy.
The FIFA World Cup adventures of Paulo Autuori, now in the hot seat with Copa Libertadores champions Sao Paulo, include one appearance in the South American qualifiers as coach of Peru.
Incidentally, two players edging a little closer to "veteran" status during the tournament are Liverpool's Stephen Warnock and Deportivo Saprissa's Keylor Navas, who will be celebrating birthdays on 12 and 15 December respectively.
Many happy returns to both of you.