Stage set for busy opening day at Qatar 2020

3 Feb 2021
  • Qatar 2020 kicks off with a meeting between Tigres UANL and Ulsan Hyundai

  • Al Duhail and Al Ahly face off in the opening day's second match

  • Bayern Munich and Palmeiras will begin their campaigns in the semi-finals

The eyes of the football world will be on the Qatari capital of Doha from tomorrow, when the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™ gets under way. One of the biggest tournaments on the calendar, this year’s tournament features 2020 Qatari league winners and host club Al Duhail SC and five reigning continental champions: Bayern Munich representing Europe, Africa’s Al Ahly SC, Asia’s Ulsan Hyundai, Tigres UANL of the Concacaf zone, and Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras.

The competition kicks off on Thursday with an attractive tie between Ulsan Hyundai and Tigres UANL. Ulsan have happy recent memories of Qatar, having beating IR Iran's Persepolis there to win the 2020 AFC Champions League final. Opponents Tigres finally won the Concacaf Champions League after losing three finals under coach Ricardo Ferretti, the man who has completely transformed their fortunes during his ten years in charge.

The day’s second match is an all-Arabian affair, as Al Ahly take on host team Al Duhail. The Egyptians make their return to the competition after winning last year’s CAF Champions League final at the expense of arch rivals Zamalek, who have now been absent from the Club World Cup since 2003. Coached by Sabri Lamouchi, reigning Qatar Stars League champions Al Duhail are hoping to go far in the tournament.

The winners of that tie will take on Bayern Munich in the semi-finals, while Palmeiras will face either Ulsan Hyundai or Tigres UANL in the last four. Bayern qualified for the tournament after winning all their UEFA Champions League matches last season, including an eight-goal demolition of Barcelona. Palmeiras owe their place at Qatar 2020 to an injury-time winner in last weekend’s all-Brazilian Copa Libertadores final against Santos.

The matches

Tigres UANL-Ulsan Hyundai

Thursday, 17:00 local time (Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium)

Al Duhail-Al Ahly

Thursday, 20:30 local time (Education City Stadium)

What they said

"I think the players all have the same objective: to go as far as we can. But we want to win the next game first. Only then will we think about our overall goal." Ulsan Hyundai midfielder Won Dujae

"We’ll be taking on every team we face, from the first to the last, with the right attitude and without underestimating anyone. Things will get tougher as the tournament goes on, but we’ll maintain that respectful approach, without being scared of anyone.” Tigres coach Ricardo Ferretti

"This match will show us where we are at. The one thing I can promise is that I have every confidence in my coaching staff and my players. We’ll try to do something big, but it won’t be easy.” Al Duhail coach Sabri Lamouchi

“We are very focused. We’ve watched some Al Duhail matches to find out more about their best players and analyse their game. We hope to do justice to Al Ahly’s history and go through to the next round.” Al Ahly forward Kahraba

The stat

6
This is Al Ahly’s sixth FIFA Club World Cup appearance. Only Auckland City have made more.
DOHA, QATAR - FEBRUARY 03: Jo Hyun-woo of Ulsan Hyundai (L) and Hong Myung-bo, Head Coach of Ulsan Hyundai pose for a photo following a Press Conference ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020 on February 03, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)