Having conquered their respective confederations, the world’s elite clubs are about to face off at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010, which roars into action this Wednesday.
FIFA.com wants you get involved by telling us which of the seven contenders (FC Internazionale Milano, SC Internacional do Porto Alegre, Club de Futebol Pachuca, TP Mazembe Englebert, Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma F.C., Hekari United FC and Al-Wahda Sports Club) you think will go on to be crowned world champions when the final takes place on 18 December.
The two Inters start out as most people’s favourites, and for one obvious reason: no team from outside Europe or South America has ever won the competition since it was first held in 2000. That said, Rafael Benitez’s side have ensured a troubled start to the season in Serie A, although with the likes of the tireless Javier Zanetti and the free-scoring Samuel Eto’o in their ranks, they are sure to prove formidable opponents in the UAE.
Brazil’s Sport Club Internacional are aiming for their second FIFA Club World Cup success, having beaten Barcelona to win the title in 2006. Celso Roth’s team also boasts plenty of experience with the battle-hardened Bolivar and Indio in defence, the resurgent Andres d’Alessandro directing operations in midfield and Rafael Sobis providing the goal threat up front.
The biggest threat to the old order would appear to be posed by the ambitious Pachuca, who are making their third appearance in the competition. Meanwhile, Seongnam Ilhwa FC are confident of springing a surprise or two themselves, as Sasa Ognenovski, the K-League club’s Australian captain told FIFA.com last week: “I don’t play to lose. We’ll go there to win.”
Representing Africa are four-time continental champions T.P. Mazembe, who are intent on atoning for their disappointing performance at UAE 2009, when they lost both their games. Surprise OFC champions Hekari United of Papua New Guinea have high hopes of their own and will be out to prove that the old saying, “Anything is possible in football”, still holds true.
And last but not least are the hosts Al Wahda, who earned their place in the competition by winning the UAE League. Their chances of making a mark over the next few days depend to a large extent on the skills of attacking midfielder Ismaeil Matar and the support they will receive from their passionate fans.
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