FIFA Club World Cup 2010
The world's best football teams are coming to Abu Dhabi Discuss this article
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So the FIFA Club World Cup is back in town. The six greatest teams from each of FIFA’s continental federations – plus Abu Dhabi’s very own Al Wahda FC – will be doing battle on the pitches for 10 days of pulsating action. This time the competitors include Italian legends Inter Milan, Brazilian titans Internacional and Hekari United of Papa New Guinea, making this the first time a Pacific Island team has qualified for the tournament. Enjoy it while you can: next year the tournament returns to Japan, from whence it came.
Al Wadha FC
Home town: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The knowledge: Nothing to do with Al Wahda Mall, Lulu, or any other shopping outlet, they’re known locally as ‘the team of the people’.
Star players: Ismael Matar, known as ‘the Golden Boy’, is one of the great playmakers of UAE football. We’re also keen on Hugo, but only because the name brings to mind a posh fellow in tweeds, completely out of place on a football pitch. Being Brazilian, we suspect there’s more to him than that.
How to beat them: Tell Hugo that there’s a spillage in aisle seven.
Chance of victory: We’re rooting for our local team but (sorry guys) their chances of winning are slim. Getting through to the quarter finals will be a great achievement.
Factoid: Al Wahda means ‘unity’ in English.
Home town: Milan, Italy
The knowledge: When it comes to great teams in Italian football history, Inter can count themselves among the top three, rivalled only by AC Milan and Juventus. Some of the greatest players ever to have kicked a ball – including Jurgen Klinsmann, Ronaldo and Christian Vieri – have donned the famous blue and black stripes.
Star players: Samuel Eto’o (right) is one of the all time greats of African football. If the Cameroonian striker is on song, Inter’s chances of victory will be multiplied. Also, keep an eye out for Dutchman Wesley Sneijdner – the star player in the Netherlands’ recent run to the FIFA World Cup final.
How to beat them: Mentioning that local rivals AC Milan have won seven European titles, compared to their three, is sure to get them riled.
Chance of victory: They’ve lost charismatic manager Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid, and replaced him with overspending, questionably moustachioed former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez. We can’t see them being toppled, though.
Factoid: When Juventus were relegated from Serie A in 2006 for their involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, Inter became the only team in Italy to have never been demoted from the top league.
Home town: Porto Alegre, Brazil
The knowledge: There are few clubs in the football-mad country of Brazil that have the same level of worship as Inter. The red-clad team from the city of Porto Alegre has the biggest number of paying fans in the country and is one of the most successful clubs in the Brasileiro Serie A football league.
Star players: It will be a welcome return to the UAE for striker Alecsandro, who’ll be able to catch up with his old team mates, having played for Al Wahda in the 2008-09 season. Since his return to his home country, he’s scored 24 goals in 48 appearances for Internacional, making him one of the most dangerous players in the league. Also, keep an eye on their No. 10, Andres D’Alessandro, a speedy attacking midfielder who possesses some nifty dribbling skills.
How to beat them: Replace Alecsandro’s shirt with his old Al Wahda strip. He’s bound to falter. That kind of clandestine mind- messing is surely all it takes. Chance of victory: Second favourites to win, only falling behind Inter Milan by a small margin. Unless there’s a major upset, we’re on for an Inter vs Inter final.
Factoid: Internacional are the only team playing in the tournament to have won it previously, when they beat the mighty Barcelona 1-0 in the final in Tokyo in 2006. If they triumph in Abu Dhabi, they’ll become the first ever team to win two FIFA CWCs.
Home town: Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo
The knowledge: Tout Puissant (meaning all powerful) Mazembe was formed in 1939 by a group of Benectine monk missionaries. The club were formerly known as Englebert, after the tyre company that sponsored them. This is the second year in succession that they’ve qualified for the FIFA CWC after winning the African Football Championships in 2009 and 2010.
Star players: Trésor Mputu is a Congolese forward who has been linked with a number of big money moves to Europe, none of which have ever seen fruition.
How to beat them: Singing some Englebert Humperdink tunes might cause a major distraction (it always works in our office). Try a few lines from ‘Release Me’, go on!
Chance of victory: They have a solid defence and midfield, but can be a bit hot-headed – remember when goalkeeper Muteba Kitiaba was sent off in last year’s FIFA CWC? Semi-finals at best.
Factoid: They count Mwepu Ilunga as a former player. He’s the man who, while playing for Zaire in the 1974 World Cup against Brazil, dashed out of his defensive wall to boot away a free kick ball before the ref had blown his whistle. Youtube it.
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