Auckland City is set to have one the most important matches of its football history; the OFC Champions League ten-time champions is going for its 10th appearance in a FIFA Club World Cup, this time, once again, in Morocco. The North African nation was the host for one of the most important achievements of Oceania football history as Auckland City in 2014 FIFA Club World Cup edition surpassed the local champions Tétouan, the African champions ES Sétif and almost reached the final match, but they were stopped by South American champions’ San Lorenzo – losing by 2-1 in the extra-time. The Navy Blues still claimed the bronze medal after beating in the penalty shootout the Mexican outfit Cruz Azul, then the North American champions.
Once again Auckland City is back to Morocco; after not taking part in the last three editions of the competition – in 2019 the New Caledonians of Hienghène Sport won the OFC Champions League, in 2020 Auckland City was awarded the right to take part of the tournament as the regional tournament was forced to an early end due COVID-19 pandemics, but they declined the proposal in order to fulfil New Zealand’s actions against the pandemics, thus OFC did not have a representant in 2020. The last edition of the tournament, the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup held last year, counted on the Tahitian champions AS Piraé – they were also invited to the tournament as Auckland City declined the invitation also due COVID-19 restrictions. The Tahitians were knocked-out in their first game after suffering a 4-1 defeat to Al Jazira, from United Arab Emirates.
After beating AS Vénus last year in the OFC Champions League, Auckland City booked their place for the FIFA Clubs World Cup once again – the New Zealand representant is the team that most participated in the tournament. But, this time, the club might have their biggest opponent ever in their opening match: the African powerhouse Al-Ahly.
Al-Ahly won already ten times the CAF Champions League, being the runners-up in the last edition; as Wydad Casablanca won the continental tournament and also will be hosting the tournament, a spot was awarded to Al Ahly in the FIFA Clubs World Cup. The Egyptians collected three bronze medals in the tournament, being the last of them in the 2021 edition of the competition.
“In that regard we’re going to encounter a game where Al Ahly are the favourites. I like that on paper. The fact they’ve played 15 games gives them an advantage. That’s the reality, we know that. We come from New Zealand where we are normally the favourites and that means we are the underdogs here and that can be in our favour, we can utilise that in our favour“, said Albert Riera, the Spanish coach of Auckland City – but the despite the fact of the clear favouritism of the African side, Riera believes in his team: “A one-off game everyone knows anything is possible. My main concern is the players must believe they can do it and I believe they can do it. We believe we have a chance for a positive result“, added the coach in talks with Auckland City media.
Al-Ahly counts on a number of players on the Egypt football team, such as its main goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy and the industrious midfielder Amr El Solia. The strong midfielder from Mali national team Aliou Dieng might be also a standout player for his club, alongside the Tunisian Ali Maaloul, that played the last FIFA World Cup in Qatar last year for his country.
Auckland City enters the pitch today in Tangers, Morocco (01st Feb) at 8am New Zealand time to play a very important match in their history, looking forward to make history once again where they achieved one of the most important milestones for Oceania football.
One thought on “Auckland City ready for FIFA Club World Cup battle against African powerhouse”
I don’t think Al Ahly will make mistakes, especially since they know they will face Real Madrid in the semi-finals. Who doesn’t want to know the most important team in football history?