The opening match of the FIFA Club World Cup 2011 pits Kashiwa Reysol of host nation Japan against New Zealand's Auckland City FC at the Toyota Stadium in Nagoya. The winners can look forward to a clash with Monterrey of Mexico in the quarter-finals.
Kashiwa Reysol qualified for this year's FIFA Club World Cup after securing the J.League title with an historic final-day victory. It was the first time in the 18-year history of the championship that a newly-promoted side had lifted the trophy, and now the host nation's sole representatives are determined to prove themselves on the global stage.
Unlike debutants Kashiwa, Auckland City are a familiar face at the FIFA Club World Cup. Having already taken part in 2006 and 2009, the OFC O-League winners are gearing up for their third appearance in the tournament. The New Zealanders are considered outsiders in the eyes of many, but showed that they can spring a surprise with a fifth-place finish in the United Arab Emirates two years ago.
4 - Auckland's Daniel Koprivcic is set to take part in his fourth FIFA Club World Cup, setting a new tournament record. In 2007 and 2008 the attacker was involved with Waitakere United, before appearing again with his current club in 2009.
"Winning the Japanese title gives us added motivation. We've already achieved one of our targets with that success and now we want to win both our upcoming matches. We've been very focused in our preparations for the game against Auckland,"
Nelsinho Baptista, Kashiwa Reysol coach
"It's going to be a tough task against the Japanese champions. We're a small amateur club and we're going to have to put in a big performance to get a result. We're facing a huge challenge."
Ivan Vicelich, Auckland City captain