The last FIFA tournament of 2010 kicks off on Wednesday, when UAE outfit Al-Wahda Sports Club face Hekari United of Papua New Guinea in the opening match of the FIFA Club World Cup. With seven teams all vying for the right to be called club world champions, competition should be fierce. Al Wahda will therefore need all the help their home support can give them when they get their campaign underway against their fellow tournament debutants from Oceania.
Al Wahda - Hekari United, Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, Wednesday 8 December 20:00(local time)
With the entire country behind them, Al Wahda are aiming to do considerably better their UAE counterparts Al-Ahli in last year’s edition, when the local side were beaten in the opening game by Auckland City of New Zealand.
To this end Al Wahda will be relying heavily on their experienced Austrian coach Josef Hickersberger and a formidable line-up that includes captain Haidar Alo Ali and Hamdan Al Kamali in defence, and Brazilian duo Marcio Magrao and Hugo in midfield. Nor are they lacking punch up front, where in local hero Ismail Matar, Brazilian Fernando Baiano, and Modibo Diarra from Mali they have three genuine danger-men. Having netted 42 times en route to this season’s UAE league title, the home side will not be short of confidence in front of goal.
For their part, Hekari United have wasted no time in making their mark on world football. Just seven years after their formation, they find themselves competing on a global stage courtesy of a 4-2 aggregate win over New Zealand’s Waitakere United in the final of the Oceania Champions League. Coach Tommy Mana will be looking to striker Kema Jack to continue the form he showed in the latter competition, when he found the net on seven occasions to finish tournament top scorer. Captain and defender Andrew Lepani is also expected to play a pivotal role as he leads his side on a quest to emulate the success achieved by Auckland City last year.
19 – The number of goals scored by Hekari United in the eight matches played en route to winning the Oceania Champions League.
“In our recent domestic league games, it’s been difficult to assess the state of the team. Some of the players weren’t at their best and others were carrying injuries. I just hope everything will be okay,” Al Wahda coach Josef Hickersberger.
“It’s been very difficult for us to study Al Wahda’s style of play or to obtain much information about them, but we’ve carried out our preparations in Qatar and are currently in good shape. We’ve no major injury worries so we’re ready to win,” Hekari United coach Tommy Mana.