Auckland City have become the first team to secure a place in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009 after beating Kolaole FC 9-4 on aggregate in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League Final. It is the second time that Auckland City will compete in the FIFA Club World Cup, having reached the quarter-finals in 2006.
Speaking after the game, City´s captain Ivan Vicelich said:"We're champions of Oceania and that means a lot. Everyone at the club is looking forward to playing in Abu Dhabi later in the year. We don't want to go over there just to make up the numbers. It will be tough but we have quality players and a good mix in our squad so we will definitely back ourselves."
The FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009 presented by TOYOTA will be held in Abu Dhabi from 9-19 December. Seven teams will compete over the course of eight matches in Abu Dhabi's two largest stadiums; Zayed Sports City Stadium (approximately 50,000 capacity) and Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (approximately 42,000 capacity).
His Excellency Mohammed Khalfan Al-Rumaithi, President of the UAE Football Association, said "We offer our sincere congratulations to Auckland City for winning the OFC Champions League. We plan to put on a magnificent tournament, showcasing the UAE's great passion for football and the warm, welcoming hospitality that the Emirates have become renowned for around the world."
Paul Posa's squad will hope to enjoy a built-in fan base throughout the tournament, with approximately 4,000 New Zealanders residing in the UAE.
The next team to qualify will be either Atlante FC or Cruz Azul from Mexico, with the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final on 12 May. The UEFA Champions League final will provide the third team on 27 May, the South American champions will be crowned on 8 July and the final two teams will qualify via the AFC Champions League and CAF Champions League in November. The winning team of the current UFL (UAE Football League) season will complete the line-up.
If a club from the UAE wins the AFC Champions League, the next highest placed non-UAE club will qualify for FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009.