TP Mazembe-Auckland City preview

After falling prey to Pohang Steelers and Atlante in their respective quarter-finals at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009, TP Mazembe and Auckland City are preparing to square off to decide who finishes the global showpiece in fifth place. Moreover, the match at Zayed Sports City will serve as an appetiser to the competition’s second semi-final between Atlante and Barcelona, which kicks off at 20.00 local time on Wednesday.

The match*TP Mazembe-Auckland City FC, Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, Wednesday 16 December, 17.00 (local time)*

The stakesSimply put, the two teams have the opportunity to round off their UAE 2009 adventure on a high note by claiming fifth spot and, in the case of TP Mazembe, pick up the club’s first victory at the elite tournament. The CAF African Champions League winners will be determined to do just that and repay the support of the fans who have travelled to cheer them on in Abu Dhabi, as well as those back in Lubumbashi and Africa as a whole.

Not that Auckland City will make it easy for them, having underlined their prowess with a 2-0 win over host nation side Al Ahli before sinking to a 3-0 reverse against Mexican outfit Atlante in the last eight. In an added incentive, taking fifth place would match the feats of then-OFC representatives Sydney FC at Japan 2005. Given that the Aussie big-spenders edged out that year’s African champs Al Ahly of Egypt 2-1 in the sides’ match for fifth place, could that be an omen?

The stat5– The number of matches Auckland City will have played at FIFA Club World Cups come the final whistle of Wednesday’s game, thus drawing level with 2008 champions Manchester United in terms of matches played. Egyptian powerhouses Al Ahly remain out in front, however, with seven matches to their name.

The birthdayBorn on 15 December 1989, will Kiwi defender Ian Hogg cap his birthday celebrations with a win over Mazembe the following day?

The words“Whoever we face, we’ll be ready to take up the challenge and go out and chase fifth place,” TP Mazembe captain Mabi Mputu.

“We’re going to have to find our best form if we want to have a chance against the African side. We’re going to train really hard for this one,” Auckland City defender Ivan Vicelich.