The official draw for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 has taken place in Abu Dhabi.
This year’s tournament is being co-hosted by Abu Dhabi and Al Ain and will eight games being played in Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.
Head of FIFA tournaments Jaime Yarza took charge of the draw, held at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, with help from retired Colombian defender Iván Córdoba and the UAE’s Abdulrahim Jumaa.
The tournament features seven teams – six club champions from each of the continental confederations and the winner of the host country’s domestic league.
So far, UEFA Champions League 2016-2017 winners Real Madrid, OFC Champions League 2017 winners, Auckland City and CONCACAF Champions League 2016-2017 winners Pachuca have qualified. Joining them will be home-town heroes Al Jazira Club.
The remaining three teams, champions from Africa (CAF Champions League 2017), Asia (AFC Champions League 2017) and South America (Cope Libertadores 2017) will be decided next month.
Host team Al Jazira will face off against Auckland FC in the opening game on December 6 at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain and the club’s coach Henk Ten Cate is calling on the support from all football fans. “The people of Abu Dhabi should support us in this first game,” he tells Time Out Abu Dhabi. “You grow into the tournament. If you win your first game you take so much confidence with you,” he says. “We have to wait and see how the first game goes, it is not going to be easy but we are confident.”
Al Jazira, or The Pride of Abu Dhabi as they are affectionately known, has won 22 of 26 games this year, losing only two.
Prolific striker Ali Mabkhout finished with the most goals is last season’s Arabian Gulf League, bagging the league’s coveted Golden Boot and Golden Globe for the best Emirati Player. Goalkeeper Ali Khaseif held onto the Golden Glove for a second time and 22-year-old Khalfan Mubarak won the Golden Boy Award.
But the team’s Dutch coach says it’s not about individual players. “We have to bring a good team, I think that is more important than big names.”
If Al Jazira remains undefeated for its first and second round matches, we could potentially see Henk Ten Cate’s boys go up against Zinedine Zidane’s formidable Real Madrid.
Tickets are on sale now from ticketmaster.ae and start from Dhs20.
December 6-16. http://www.fifa.com/clubworldcup.