ClubWorldCup : Old foes eye glamour date
The second round of the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 begins on Sunday with a meeting between AFC Champions League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai and two-time reigning CONCACAF Champions League champions Club America. Having faced off at the same stage of the competition ten years ago, the two sides have some unfinished business and the incentive of setting up a semi-final date with European champions Real Madrid.
Jeonbuk Hyundai-Club America, Suita City Football Stadium (Osaka), Sunday 11 December, 16.00 (local time)
After a decade-long absence, Jeonbuk Hyundai return to the competition with spirits high. Having missed out on the league title on the last day of the season, this after topping the table for 26 consecutive matchdays, they bounced back in the best possible style, winning the AFC Champions League.
The Green Warriors are looking to strike duo Leonardo and Lee Donggook to fire their challenge this time. The Brazilian contributed ten goals to their triumphant continental campaign, while the veteran South Korean striker – the leading scorer in the history of the AFC Champions League – continues to pose quite a threat up front. A multiple trophy winner with Jeonbuk, coach Choi Kanghee was in charge of the club when they took on America in the quarter-finals of the 2006 Club World Cup.
While Las Águilas have happy memories of that match, which they won 1-0, they are still smarting from last year’s early elimination. The Mexicans have arrived in Japan with confidence high after winning the CONCACAF Champions League and then booking their place in the final of the 2016 Apertura a few days later. Undefeated since Ricardo La Volpe’s appointment as coach in September, America also have the statistics on their side: no Mexican side has ever lost to South Korean opposition in the competition.
Las Águilas also have several players in fine form, with striker Silvio Romero in among the goals and attacking midfielder William Da Silva at the peak of his powers. Oribe Peralta is a proven goalscorer on the big occasion, while veterans Moises Munoz and Rubens Sambueza still have much to offer to a tried and tested unit that has the ability to win through to the latter stages of the tournament and take on the best.
3 – the number of appearances America have made in the Club World Cup, the same as compatriots CF Pachuca and CF Monterrey, and more than any other Mexican club. Las Águilas’ previous appearances came in 2006 and 2015, when they finished fourth and fifth respectively.
“We’re focused on nothing else but the first game, but it goes without saying that we’d like to face Real Madrid.” Jeonbuk Hyundai striker Lee Donggook
“We want to pick up experience and put in some good performances. I’m delighted to be here in Japan and I hope the home fans have the chance to get to know Club America.” Club America coach Ricardo La Volpe