The second day's play at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007 sees Etoile Sportive du Sahel and Pachuca cross swords this Sunday in Tokyo in the tournament's first quarter-final. With the Tunisian and Mexican outfits taking part in the competition for the first time, victory would be a historic achievement for either side.
Etoile earned the right to compete in Japan after sensationally beating Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the final of the CAF Champions League last month in Cairo. Given the character they showed en route to their continental title, we can expect Bertrand Marchand's charges to cover every blade of grass when they take on Mexico's Pachuca at Tokyo's National Stadium. Enrique Meza's Tuzos, for their part, have made winning a habit in recent seasons and will be hoping to emulate last year's performance by compatriots CF America, who reached the last four.
French coach Bertrand Marchand will be without the services of the suspended Mehdi Meriah, while Meza received a welcome boost with news that goalkeeper Miguel Calero is fit to play again after a shoulder injury.
This will be the second meeting between the champions of the CAF and CONCACAF in this tournament, after Al Ahly edged out America in the match for third place in 2006.
The Mexican Marco Ivan Perez of Pachuca could enjoy a double celebration if his side can secure a win for his 20 th birthday.
"Qualifying for this tournament as recently as we did was a good thing, as it means our spirits are high and we're on top form, making us possibly better prepared than our rivals. We know all about Pachuca and can tell you they're an excellent side. If we are to win, we'll have to play to our full potential. One thing is for sure: you'll see a very tight game." Bertrand Marchand (Etoile coach).
"As African champions we respect them - they're here for a good reason. They're a pacy side, who we've watched closely in recent weeks. That said, we believe in ourselves and feel our football and potential can carry us into the next round. After all, we're here to represent the CONCACAF as best we can and take the title." Enrique Meza (Pachucacoach).