Morocco meets Mexico in transatlantic clash
Seasoned campaigners Pachuca take on newcomers Wydad
First of five matches to be held in Abu Dhabi
Los Tuzos aiming to improve on the fourth place they achieved in 2008
Abu Dhabi provides the venue for the opening match of the second round of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 on Saturday, with CONCACAF Champions League winners and tournament regulars Pachuca taking on new boys Wydad Athletic Club, who will be hoping to build on the success enjoyed by African sides in previous editions.
The prize for the winners is a place in the first semi-final, against Gremio of Brazil, who have already arrived in the United Arab Emirates in preparation for the game.
The match Pachuca vs Wydad Athletic Club Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi Saturday, 9 December, 17:00 (local time)
What you need to know Having missed out on a place in the Mexican league championship play-offs, Pachuca tuned up for UAE 2017 with a storming run in the Copa MX, the final of which will be played on 21 December. Though they have been without competitive football in the last two weeks, Los Tuzos have a lot going for them, with successful coach Diego Alonso fashioning an attack-minded side spearheaded by the free-scoring Victor Guzman and provider-in-chief Jonathan Urretaviscaya.
Opponents Wydad Athletic Club have good reason to be optimistic as they make their FIFA Club World Cup debut, having won the CAF Champions League for the first time in 25 years and doing so against the mighty Al Ahly of Egypt. The Moroccans have arrived in the UAE in fine form, thanks to the goals of front man Mohammed Aoulad, who has scored four of their last seven, and the effectiveness of the tandem formed by Walid El Karti and Achraf Bencharki, who both played a central role in the club’s continental title win.
The stat 4 - Pachuca are taking part in their fourth FIFA Club World Cup. When they step out against Wydad, Los Tuzos will move past America and Monterrey as the CONCACAF side with most appearances in the competition.
The words “We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’ve come prepared. We’ve not had any games over these last two weeks but we’ve worked really hard and we hope things work out for us.” Joaquin Martinez, Pachuca
“The match against Pachuca is going to be really tough, like every game at the FIFA Club World Cup. We haven’t come just to take part. We need to perform at our very best to show how good Moroccan football is.” Salaheddine Saidi, Wydad Athletic Club