Ronaldo wings in to Japan

It must not be easy to complete an 11 and a half hour, 5,956 mile flight from London to Tokyo and be met by a barrage of flashbulbs, but it probably goes with the territory if you are part of Manchester United Football Club.

Sir Alex Ferguson and his 23-man squad landed at Narita Airport in Tokyo at 3.33pm (local time) this afternoon after setting out from London Heathrow at 7.09pm last night. The Red Devils remained in London to rest following their 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday evening, a result which sees them six points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, but with a game in hand.

However, their thoughts must now turn from domestic matters to the FIFA Club World Cup and a semi-final meeting with Gamba Osaka on Thursday evening. As you might expect, excitement in Japan is at fever pitch at the prospect of the AFC champions facing one of the world's biggest clubs.

"This is an international competition and we're going to do our best to beat them," Gamba's Yasuhito Endo told "I'm going to give everything I have to get forward and attack them. Obviously, Manchester United are a great team, one of the best in the world, and this match will be a fantastic experience for us and the fans, as there are no English players in the J.League. "

It seems that there is similar anticipation within the Manchester United squad. Although they won the Intercontinental Cup in 1999 by beating Palmeiras 1-0, no British club has triumphed in the four previous inceptions of the FIFA Club World Cup. Liverpool came closest when they finished runners-up to Sao Paulo three years ago, and so if United can go one better, then they will not only make history, but earn bragging rights over the rest of the clubs in the United Kingdom.

I came to United to win trophies - and to win something no other English club has ever won is all the motivation we need.
Wayne Rooney hopes that Manchester United will be crowned the best side on the planet.

"Our main objective at the start of each season is to win all the trophies we are involved in," said striker Wayne Rooney. "If we can return as World Club Champions it will be a fantastic achievement and something to be proud of for the players and the club. To say that you are world club champions and the best team in the world would be brilliant.

"That's why we are not going to Japan take the games lightly and rest all the big names - we will definitely be going in there committed to winning it because that is the mentality of the manager and players. I came to United to win trophies - and to win something no other English club has ever won is all the motivation we need. There is no point going all that way and not attempting to create history."

However, the champions of Europe travelled to Japan without goalkeeper Ben Foster, who was forced to withdraw from the squad at the weekend. The England international suffered a hand injury in training and has been replaced by Ben Amos. Amos, an 18-year-old England youth international, made his first-team debut in September in a 3-1 League Cup win over Middlesbrough.

Ferguson's men last travelled to Japan in July 2007 to face Urawa Reds in Saitama Stadium. Goals from Darren Fletcher and Cristiano Ronaldo helped them to a 2-2 draw, with Hideki Uchidate and Shinji Ono scoring for the Japanese side.