Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

South America: Estudiantes and LDU grab the honours

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 13, 2010

The title race was settled in Argentina this weekend whilst the first stage in Ecuador’s top league also came to a conclusion. As it turned out two of South America’s most successful teams on the continent in recent years, Estudiantes de La Plata and LDU Quito, went on to add silverware to their domestic honours board.

In Argentina the title race went down to the final day and it was a two-horse race between two of the country’s top clubs, Estudiantes and Velez Sarsfield. Four-times champions of Argentina and South America, Estudiantes were in the ascendancy going into the final round of matches as they had a two point lead over Velez. This meant that Velez needed a win and hope for an Estudiantes defeat to claim the title outright or a draw to take the season into a championship play-off fixture. At half-time the omens were looking good for Velez as Juan Manuel Martinez’s 23rd minute goal had them leading their tie away at Racing Club whilst Estudiantes were drawing 0-0 at home in La Plata against Arsenal de Sarandi.

In the second half things got better for Velez as Maximiliano Moralez doubled their lead in the 57th minute leaving most of the fans in the stadium listening to their radios for the latest news coming from La Plata. For Velez fans, however, the title dream would be over in the final twenty minutes of the season as Rodrigo Lopez bagged a brace for Estudiantes which would guarantee them their fifth Argentine championship, their first for four years. The La Plata giants won with 45 points from 19 games, two more than Velez who will rue the two points dropped in the goalless draw against, ironically, Estudiantes’ local rivals Gimnasia Y Esgrima de La Plata on Matchday 14 as the difference between success and failure.

In Ecuador the country’s most successful club Emelec were hoping to defeat the continental powerhouses of LDU Quito in the championship 1st stage final which was played over two legs this week. In the first leg last Sunday LDU won their home tie 2-0 with a double strike from Miller Bolanaos with his second goal in the 92nd minute of the match ultimately proving crucial. Yesterday Emelec won the return fixture with a David Quiroz goal on the hour mark but the 1-0 win proved not enough with LDU prevailing 2-1 on aggregate.

Argentina: Maidana wins it for River; League Review (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on November 17, 2010

Jonathan Maidana’s crucial header in the 53rd minute of the match won the latest Superclásico for River Plate against arch-rivals Boca Juniors on Tuesday. The win helped River Plate out of a bad recent spell and took los Millionarios up to eighth place in the latest Apertura standings. However the main excitement in the championship does not concern the Big Two as they are both well off the pace in the title race. With five rounds of matches to go in the first championship of the season Vélez Sársfield and Estudiantes de La Plata share the lead with thirty points each from 14 games, five points ahead of nearest challengers Arsenal de Sarandi.

Both Vélez Sársfield and Estudiantes have experienced championship success in recent years. Vélez won the 2009 Clausura title following a last-day showdown with their title rivals Huracán in which the latter gained much sympathy from neutral supporters following the way they lost the title in controversial circumstances. Estudiantes last won the Apertura in 2006 when, having finished on equal points with Boca Juniors, won a title play-off 2-1. They came close to winning the Clausura in 2010 but could only finish runners-up to eventual winners Argentinos Juniors by a single point. Now both teams have ambitions of lifting more silverware and consolidating their recent success making the most of the current situation in which River and Boca have been conspicuous by their absence in relation to the championship chase. On Matchday 14 Vélez won their fixture at home to CA Lanús by a single goal to nil thanks to Ricardo Alvarez’s 59th minute strike whilst Estudiantes slipped up losing 2-1 to CA Tigre. With five matches to go it is clear to see that there are still some potential twists to come in the championship race.

Despite the absence of the traditional two biggest clubs from the title race the Superclásico still retains its billing as the most anticipated fixture in the domestic game. River Plate hadn’t won any of these games for three years before last night but they finally chalked up a win over their eternal rivals after Jonathan Maidana’s perfectly timed header early in the second half was all that could separate the teams.

WATCH RIVER PLATE v BOCA JUNIORS HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

Recopa: LDU Quito secure double triumph

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on September 9, 2010
Recopa logo

The logo for the Recopa which was won by LDU Quito in 2010

Defending Recopa (South American Super Cup) holders LDU Quito have successfully defended their title after seeing off Argentinians Estudiantes de La Plata in the second leg of the 2010 edition. After the first leg saw them win their home tie 2-1 against the 2009 Copa Libertadores holders, LDU Quito held out for a 0-0 draw in the return leg played in Quilmes, Buenos Aires last night and secure the latest in a string of continental silverware for Ecuador’s most successful club of modern times. Having triumphed in the 2008 Copa Libertadores, LDU Quito won the Copa Sudamericana in 2009 and those two titles allowed them to participate in the Recopa which they have now won in successive years and they now join Sao Paulo and Boca Juniors as the only clubs to have achieved this feat.

WATCH TROPHY PRESENTATION HERE:

Recopa: Barcos gives LDU advantage (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on August 26, 2010
Hernán Barcos

Hernán Barcos scored both goals to give LDU a 2-1 first leg victory

LDU Quito hold a narrow 2-1 advantage over Estudiantes de La Plata after the first leg of the Recopa, South America’s Super Cup, which was played in their home Estadio Casa Blanco in the Ecuadorian capital. All of the goals came in the first seventeen minutes of the game which pits the winners from the 2009 editions of the Copa Libertadores (Estudiantes) and Copa Sudamericana (LDU Quito) together over two legs. LDU Quito are the defending Recopa holders as they won last year’s competition against Brazilians Internacional and they are hoping to become only the third team to win back-to-back titles along with Brazilians São Paulo (1993, 1994) and, more recently, Argentinians Boca Juniors (2005, 2006). Hernán Barcos gave the home side the lead after just eight minutes, heading home from close range which gave Estudiantes keeper César Taborda no chance. The Argentinians didn’t remain behind for long and equalized a mere four minutes later after Marcos Rojo fired home from six yards out following LDU’s inability to clear their lines from a free-kick. Sadly for Estudiantes they were to fall behind once more after 17 minutes when Barcos scored his second. After winning the ball in the penalty box the Argentine forward shot low past Taborda to score what would be the winning goal of the first leg, thus setting up an intriging return leg which will be played next Wednesday in La Plata.

WATCH LDU QUITO v ESTUDIANTES de LA PLATA 1ST LEG HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

Argentina: Another Surprise Champion in the Clausura (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 17, 2010

The Argentinian domestic championship has had its fair share of surprise champions in recent years and the crowning of Argentinos Juniors on Sunday is another fine example of just how open the league has become in the last couple of seasons. After unexpected successes for Estudiantes de La Plata, Lanús and Banfield in the various Argentine championships since 2005-06 Argentinos Juniors, who were last crowned domestic champions in 1985, held out over the challenge of Estudiantes by winning their final game of the 2009-10 Torneo Clasura (Closing Championship) season 2-1 against Huracán.

Estudiantes, defending South American champions, needed to win their final game against Colon de Santa Fe and hope that Juniors slipped up in their final match but it wasn’t to be. Goals from Juan Mercier in the 23rd minute and Facundo Coria with thirteen minutes of the match remaining gave Argentinos Juniors a two goal cushion which was then reduced by half due to a late strike from Huracán’s Alan Sánchez. At the same time Estudiantes easily won their game in Santa Fe by 4-1 with the league’s top scorer Mauro Boselli helping himself to a hat-trick. For Argentinos Juniors it is only a third championship success in the club’s history after winning the 1984 Metropolitano and 1985 Nacional titles while Estudiantes’s season continues with a Copa Libertadores quarter-final second leg against Brazilians Internacional who hold a 1-0 first leg advantage over los Pincharratas.

Other issues to be decided on the back of the Torneo Clausura were the places for Copa Sudamericana later this year as well as at the bottom of the league. Before Matchday 19 kicked off five out of six places in South America’s second cup competition had been decided with Banfield, Argentinos Juniors, Estudiantes de La Plata, Newell’s Old Boys and Independiente already assured of their participation in the tournament which begins in August. The final day provided some drama as Vélez Sársfield and Lanús played their respective matches against Rosario Central and Independiente. Vélez appeared to have slipped up by drawing their game 0-0 which would see Lanús take the final place with a win but they, too, bottled it losing 1-0 to a late Ignacio Piatti goal. This meant that, in the aggregate table of Apertura and Clausura championships used to determine Sudamericana entrants, Vélez had 61 points compared to Lanús’ 60 points.

At the bottom of the table the two automatic relegation places were known a couple of games ago as Chacarita Juniors and Atlético Tucumán have occupied the bottom two spots in the averages table for some time. There were two places in the promotion/relegation play-offs to be decided and after the days games the unlucky couple to face a season extending set of games against clubs from the second division are Gimnasia de La Plata and Rosario Central.

Watch the Argentinos Juniors Highlights and trophy ceremony here:

Copa Libertadores: Round of 16 Review (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 7, 2010

The Copa Libertadores has concluded its round of 16 stage and “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” highlights the events of a compelling and, at times, controversial first knockout round:

The first games were completed on Tuesday night and there was one upset and one near upset as big boys from Argentina and Brazil struggled against teams from Mexico and Peru respectively. Vélez Sársfield, whose only Libertadores triumph came in 1994, were expected to go through against Mexican team Chivas especially as the Guadalajara based side were resting players ahead of a crucial Mexican championship match. Sadly for Vélez their opponents hadn’t read the script as Chivas won the first leg in Guadalajara by three goals to nil thanks to a brace from Omar Bravo and a penalty kick from Héctor Reynoso struck in second-half stoppage time. This spot kick proved to be the difference between the two sides as the Argentines pulled two goals back in the return fixture but could not equalize late on. Penalties were also crucial in deciding the match between three-time champions São Paulo FC and Peruvians Universitario Lima who were unable to score a goal between them over two games so had to decide the fixture in a shoot-out. São Paulo missed their first spot kick but converted the rest of their four attempts whilst Universitario reversed that pattern to lose the shoot-out 3-1. Watch the shoot-out here:

The all-Brazilian clash between Flamengo and Corinthians was arguably the most anticipated tie of the round when the draw was made. Flamengo, who won their sixth Brazilian championship last season, haven’t won the Libertadores since their sole triumph back in 1981 but their opponents Corinthians were hoping to win the big one for the first time in their centenary year, hence bringing players of the calibre of Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos back to their homeland. However Flamengo had a couple of quality strikers of their own in Adriano and Vágner Love, the latter’s second leg goal proving crucial. After Adriano had given Flamengo a 1-0 home win in the first leg O Mengão travelled to São Paulo for the return and were behind after 28 minutes thanks to a David own goal. Corinthians then took the lead overall in the tie when Ronaldo scored against his boyhood club six minutes before half-time. Flamengo were not to be denied and struck back just four minutes after the restart thanks to Vágner Love whose away goal proved the difference between the sides as the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate. Watch second leg match highlights here:

In Wednesday night’s other games defending Libertadores champions Estudiantes de La Plata eased through to the quarter-finals after wrapping up a 3-1 home victory against Mexican side San Luis who, along with Chivas Guadalajara, were invited back to the competition this year due to their forced withdrawal from last season’s tournament due to the swine flu epidemic. Leandro González, who scored the only goal in the first leg for Estudiantes, opened the scoring after just four minutes for the Argentines but Diego de la Torre replied for the visitors just three minutes later. The game was sealed in the second half with two goals in five minutes from Leandro Benítez giving Estudiantes a 4-1 aggregate victory. Brazilians Cruzeiro also eased their way through against three-times Libertadores winners Nacional of Montevideo with Thiago Rebeiro scoring four times in a 6-1 aggregate win for the Belo Horizonte side who will play against compatriots São Paulo in the next round.

On Thursday Brazilian success in the tournament continued with the progression of Internacional at the expense of Argentinian Apertura champions Banfield thanks to away goals. Inter were beaten 3-1 in the first leg but their away goal proved crucial once Alecsandro and Walter had given the Porto Alegre outift a 2-0 lead in the second leg. With the game tied 3-3 on aggregate the Brazilians just squeezed past El Taladro who were participating in only their third ever Libertadores. In Paraguay Club Libertad were involved in a struggle against 2008 champions Once Caldas from Colombia. Dayro Moreno gave the Colombians the lead after 55 minutes meaning that Club Libertad had to score twice without reply in order to go through. Roberto Gamarra stepped up to the occasion by converting a 73rd minute penalty and a last-gasp 89th minute winner to give the Paraguayans a 2-1 win on the night and on aggregate. The final match of the round was played in Chile and it turned out to be very controversial. One nil down from the first leg, Peruvians Alianza Lima were leading the second leg 2-1 on the night and going through on away goals when, a couple of minutes into stoppage time, Seymour’s shot gave Universidad de Chile a third goal of the tie to give the Chileans the advantage. However there appeared to be three players in an offside position but the linesman and the referee deemed the goal valid much to the annoyance of the Alianza players who surrounded the referee after the game, forcing the officials to be given a police escort from the field. Watch highlights here:

COPA LIBERTADORES QUARTER-FINAL DRAW

Universidad de Chile v Flamengo

São Paulo v Cruzeiro

Estudiantes de La Plata v Internacional

Club Libertad v Chivas Guadalajara

(1st Legs May 11-13; 2nd Leg May 18-20)

FIFA Club World Cup Review

FC Barcelona

At the third time of asking FC Barcelona become World Club champions

It was a case of third time lucky for FC Barcelona as they sealed their maiden triumph in the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Their opponents, Copa Libertadores champions Estudiantes de La Plata, were so close to winning the trophy themselves after leading the contest for so long. However the Catalans rounded off the final leg of an unprecedented “grand slam” of trophies by scoring late in reglaur time and rounding off the game in extra-time.

The first half of the game started with no real flow due to the number of fouls being committed on both sides. The first thirty minutes saw few real chances and it resembled the proverbial game of chess. However the deadlock was broken on 37 minutes as Mauro Boselli headed in a Juan Manual Diaz cross from the left to give “los Pincharatas” a 1-0 lead and they saw this lead through to half-time.

In the second half Estudiantes seemed determined to hold on to their lead allowing the European champions as much time and possession as they wished, with the Argentines hoping to break on the counter attack. For so long the rugged Estudiantes defence kept wave after wave of “Barça” attacks out of reach and their defensive tactics appeared to be paying off. However the breakthrough for Barcelona came very late. In the 88th minute Pedro managed to loop a header over goalkeeper Albil into the top right hand corner and the hoardes of Barcelona fans in the stadium were ecstatic.

Barcelona started the extra-time period in much the same fashion as they’d ended the regulation period. Ibrahimovic and Toure had shots blocked in the first period of fifteen minutes. It wasn’t until five minutes into the second half of extra-time until Lionel Messi was able to pop up with the game’s decisive moment. Dani Alves’ right sided cross was chested home by the Argentine superstar from close range and the Catalans could sense that their day had finally come after two previous disappointments in Club World Cup finals.

The excitement wasn’t quite over as an urgent Estudiantes side finally found some forward momentum to try and take the game into penalties. A free kick was won in the last minute of extra-time and Estudiantes had everybody in the penalty area including goalkeeper Albil. However Juan Sebastian Veron’s free-kick was headed just wide by defender Leandro Desabato and the last chance for Veron Jr. to emulate his father’s achievement of 1968 (see “FIFA Club World Cup – Preview” blog) was over. The final whistle was blown and Barcelona’s fans were rejoicing the completion of an unprecedented sextet of trophies: Spanish League, Spanish Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Champions League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup. In a little under eighteen months Barça coach Pep Guardiola, already much decorated as a player, had won everything there was to win as a coach. Already in his fledgling managerial career he will go down as one of the legends of the game for this remarkable achievement.

In the other two matches played to close the tournament Asian champions Pohang Steelers clinched third place beating North/Central American champions Atlante CF 4-3 on penalties after the game had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes (no extra-time in this contest). The South Koreans’ success means that the Asian representatives have finished third in the last three tournaments (Urawa Red Diamonds and Gamba Osaka also finished third in 2007 and 2008 resepectively). In the fifth/sixth place play-off, played on Wednesday December 16th, Oceania’s Auckland City continued their dream tournament by beating African champions TP Mazembe 3-2 securing the win with a last minute winner from Riki van Steeden. This ensured the best ever performance by an Oceanian team in the tournament’s history.

“Big Two” qualify for FIFA Club World Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic started for Barcelona in their semi-final against Atlante of Mexico

The FIFA Club World Cup is well under way now in the United Arab Emirates and, as expected, there will be a showdown between European champions FC Barcelona and their South American equivalents Estudiantes de la Plata on Saturday, December 19th. Stoppage Time looks at the tournament so far.

The tournament kicked off in Abu Dhabi with the Oceania representatives Auckland City FC, who had previously participated in this tournament in 2006, winning the first match against host team Al Ahli FC 2-0 thanks to goals from Adam Dickinson and Chad Coombes. Thanks to that win the New Zealanders had already achieved their main goal which was to qualify for the quarter-finals, in which they played against North/Central America champions Atlante CF (Mexico). Alas they were unable to progress any further as the Mexicans cruised into the semi-finals winning the game 3-0 due to strikes from Daniel Arreola, Christian Bermudez and Lucas Silva. In the other quarter-final it was a Brazilian who helped Asian champions Pohang Steelers (South Korea) overcome a half-time deficit as Denilson’s two second half goals helped see off the challenge from African Champions League winners TP Mazembe (Congo DR) in a close match 2-1.

The big two of the tournament entered at the semi-final stage. First to play were Estudiantes (Argentina) against Pohang Steelers. Although the Argentines enjoyed twice the amount of possession and had nearly three times as many shots at goal as their opponents they were made to work hard by a Pohang side that were tough to break down. Leandro Benitez scored two minutes into first half stoppage time to give “the Students” the advantage at half-time and followed that with his second goal eight minutes into the second half. It was the Koreans’ own South American influence that brought them back into the game when Denilson pulled one back after 71 minutes. However their discipline, or lack of it, proved their undoing as they had three players sent off the pitch. Two of the players, Kim Jae Sung and goalkeeper Shin Hwa Yong, were sent off in the final eighteen minutes of the game and the numerical advantage allowed Estudiantes to cross the line in comfortable fashion and into their fourth Club World Cup final.

Barcelona’s campaign started with a tougher challenge against Atlante CF just four days after they had won their local derby against Espanyol 1-0 in La Liga. The scorer in the derby, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was among the starters for Barça while Lionel Messi, newly crowned European Footballer of the Year winner, was on the substitutes’ bench. However the Mexicans hadn’t come to the Middle East to make up the numbers and they stunned their more illustrious opponents early on thanks to a Guillermo Rojas goal after five minutes. The game ebbed and flowed for the next thirty minutes until Barcelona equalized thanks to a Sergio Busquets strike and the half finished 1-1. However the second half was to be dominated by the “Blaugrana” as Pep Guardiola’s 52nd minute substitution bringing on Lionel Messi for Yaya Toure, proved a masterstroke as the little Argentine made an immediate impact, rounding the keeper to make it 2-1 on 55 minutes. From here the “Blaugrana” began to take charge and they were further rewarded on 67 minutes when some good work by Andres Iniesta was turned home by Pedro from close range making the score 3-1. The remainder of the game was played almost as a Barcelona training session as Atlante failed to trouble the scoresheet any further and it was the giants from Catalonia who sealed their place in Sunday’s final, their third final since 1992, against Estudiantes de la Plata.

Banfield secure maiden title in Argentina

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 14, 2009

Argentina’s football championship has come up with a few surprise champions in the last few years (e.g. Estudiantes in 2006, Lanus in 2008) but the latest champion Banfield are probably the biggest surprise of them all. On the final game of Argentina’s “Apertura” (Opening) Championship they were defeated 2-0 away at Boca Juniors but this turned out not to be so tragic as, at the same time, their nearest title challengers Newell’s Old Boys were succumbing to the same scoreline at home to San Lorenzo.

On a dramatic final day in the “Apertura” (not to be confused with the “Clausura” or “Closing” championship that makes up the second half of the season) Banfield went to cross city rivals Boca knowing that a win would make them champion and a draw would at least guarantee a play-off for the title in the event of a Newell’s win in Rosario (in Argentina play-offs decide the destination of the title in the event of a tie on points between two or more teams). If Banfield lost then a Newell’s win would mean the championship going back to Rosario since their last title win in 2004.

After six minutes of the first half there were cheers around Boca’s home stadium, La Bombonera, when Banfield fans heard the news that Newell’s were 1-0 down thanks to a goal from San Lorenzo’s Fabian Bordagaray. At almost that exact moment Boca won a penalty kick which Martin Palermo dispatched with great aplomb to make it 1-0 and to stun the legions of Green and White fans who had been cheering only seconds earlier. Both games ended 1-0 at half-time and the second half would progressively get more nervous for the title contenders.

Sixteen minutes into the second half at La Bombonera saw Boca Juniors double their lead thanks to a close range strike from Martin Palermo. This goal had the fans of Banfield holding their heads in their hands in disbelief. Were their title chances going up in smoke before them? Thankfully, for Banfield, they heard more cheers nearly ten minutes later after news filtered through of a second goal for San Lorenzo. Fabian Bordagaray, like Martin Palermo, had scored his second goal of the afternoon and would become a hero for Banfield fans everywhere. This news allowed both Boca and Banfield to take their foot off the gas and see out the game. Whilst those Banfield fans lucky enough to get a ticket were getting the party started at La Bombonera there were even bigger celebrations at Banfield’s home stadium where thousands of supporters had been let in to the stadium to watch the game on a big screen.

With both games finishing in 2-0 defeats for the title contenders it was Banfield that secured the title, the very first league championship success in the club’s history, with 41 points from 19 games, Newell’s Old Boys two behind on 39 whilst Colón Santa Fe, Independiente and Velez Sarsfield all had 34 points. Banfield qualify for the 2010 Copa Libertadores along with the 2009 Clausura champions Velez, the reigning Libertadores champions Estudiantes de la Plata and the three teams who had the best points average in the Clausura and Apertura tournaments in 2009 (Lanus, Colón and Newell’s). Relegation matters will be decided after the conclusion of the 2010 Clausura championship.

FIFA Club World Cup preview

FIFA Club World Cup

Seven teams will fight it out in the UAE for the trophy

Love it or loathe it the FIFA Club World Cup is going to remain a staple part of the football calendar. To some observers it’s a chance to win a trophy and add more prestige to their club. To some others it’s a competition that turns up in the middle of a long hard season, getting in the way of domestic progress. Either way there will be seven teams in the United Arab Emirates from December 9-19 who will be giving everything to win the cup. Here is Stoppage Time’s guide to the participants:

FC BARCELONA – UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

FC Barcelona became European champions for the third time in May after beating Manchester United 2-0 in Rome. It is surprising that a massive club such as “Barça” has never won the FIFA Club World Cup or its predecessor, the Intercontinental Cup. After twice being crowned European champions in 1992 and 2006 the Catalans have been defeated by Brazilian clubs in their attempts to be crowned the world’s best. In 1992 a São Paulo side inspired by Rai beat Barça 2-1 and then, three years ago, Internacional scored a late goal to deny Barcelona again. This time the ‘Blaugrana’ hope to make it third time lucky in this tournament and add the FIFA Club World Cup to the other five trophies they’ve won under their coach Pep Guardiola.

ESTUDIANTES DE LA PLATA – COPA LIBERTADORES WINNERS 2009

Estudiantes won their fourth Copa Libertadores with a 2-1 victory over two legs against Brazilian side Cruzeiro. The Argentinian side had a mixed record in the Intercontinental Cup during their heyday in the late 1960s and early 70s. Their solo victory came in 1968 after a 2-1 aggregate win over Manchester United (before 1979 the champions of Europe and South America played home and away matches to win the cup). Their next two efforts, however, ended in failure; in 1969 Milan won 4-2 on aggregate and in 1970 Feyenoord Rotterdam claimed their only world title with a 3-2 aggregate win. Can Juan Sebastián Verón emulate his father Juan Ramón’s achievements and become a world champion with his boyhood club?

ATLANTE CF – CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The Mexican side secured their second CONCACAF Champions League title after an all-Mexican affair with Cruz Azul ended up 2-0 after a two-legged final. Atlante’s other title win was back in 1983 when they defeated Surinam’s Robinhood FC (yes, really!) 6-1 over two legs. Atlante’s Club World Cup campaign will kick-off at the quarter-final stage against either Al Ahli or Auckland City, who meet in the first match of the competition.

POHANG STEELERS – AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The three time Asian champions have not always dominated the domestic scene in South Korea but tend to thrive in Asian club competition. After previous successes in 1997 and 1998, Pohang Steelers won a third title this year by defeating Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Tokyo’s National Stadium. Pohang will play against TP Mazembe at the quarter-final stage, the winner of which faces Estudiantes in the semi-finals.

TP MAZEMBE – CAF AFRICAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The Congolese side have been African champions on three occasions after their most recent success was decided on away goals against Nigerian team Heartlands FC. After the Nigerians won the first leg 2-1 at home, Mazembe won the second leg 1-0 to secure a passage to the Middle East. A meeting with Estudiantes de la Plata awaits if they can overcome Pohang Steelers in the quarter-final.

AUCKLAND CITY – OFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The New Zealanders will be participating in the FIFA Club World Cup for a second time, after their previous appearance in 2006, following their 9-4 win over Soloman Islands’ club Koloale FC in the two-legged OFC Champions League final. In 2006 Auckland City lost in the opening play-off match to Al Ahly of Egypt 2-0. Can they avoid a repeat against a similarly named Al Ahli of UAE in this year’s tournament?

AL AHLI – UAE LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2009

Representing the host country in this year’s tournament, Al Ahli have never been Asian champions but are the current UAE League champions after winning the title by one point from nearest challengers Al Jazira Club. Last season’s attempt at continental glory came to an end in the group phase of the AFC Champions League competition. Will meet Atlante CF in the quarter-final if they beat Auckland City in the play-off match.