Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Monterrey CF

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on November 30, 2011

Monterrey CF club badgeMexican clubs have dominated the CONCACAF Champions League in recent years and Monterrey CF kept up that trend when winning their maiden title this year. Monterrey, therefore, will enjoy their first appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup with a quarter-final tie against the winner of the qualifying play-off between Oceania champions Auckland City and the J-League champions (as yet undecided).

Monterrey started off their CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a record of five wins and a draw from their six group phase games against Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica), CD Marathón (Honduras) and Seattle Sounders (USA). They then had to beat two fellow Mexican clubs in consecutive knockout rounds, a 1-0 win in each leg helping them through the quarter-finals against Toluca whilst the semi-finals against Cruz Azul was won by the odd goal in five. The 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final against 2009 Major League Soccer champions Real Salt Lake was a tight affair, the Americans gaining the tag of slight favourites to win the trophy following a credible 2-2 draw away from home in the first leg with goals from Monterrey’s Aldo de Nigris and Humberto Suazo cancelled out by strikes for Nat Borchers and Javier Morales. The Mexicans though had enough in the tank to take the game to their hosts in the second leg with Humberto Suazo proving to be the hero, his goal on the edge of half-time proving crucial as Monterrey held on to win the second leg 1-0 and the tie 3-2 on aggregate.

Since Monterrey clinched the CONCACAF Champions League back in April they have been defending their title in the 2011-12 edition of the competition. So far Monterrey have kept up their impressive form, topping their group once again, and look forward once more to a quarter-final match-up against a Mexican side, in this case Monarcas Morelia, when the tournament resumes in March 2012. Domestically Monterrey have been struggling somewhat in the 2011-12 Apertura (Opening Championship) tournament; having won the previous two Opening titles Monterrey could only finish in 11th place during the regular season and failed to make the play-offs. Monterrey’s last competitive game came on November 5th so they might prove a little bit rusty going into the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. Should the Mexicans win their quarter-final tie they will face off against a Santos team who will be going straight to the tournament on the back of a tough Brazilian league season which finishes on December 4th.



Spain: Barcelona thrash Vallecano before World challenge

Posted in European Football by peterbein on November 30, 2011

Alexis SanchezFC Barcelona won their final La Liga match on Tuesday night before flying out to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup.

Goals from Alexis Sanchez (2), David Villa and Lionel Messi gave the Spanish and European champions a comfortable 4-0 victory at home to Rayo Vallecano. The win meant that Barcelona reduced the gap between themselves and league leaders Real Madrid to three points but the capital side do have the advantage of a game in hand.

FC Barcelona will now fly out to Japan in order to prepare for their FIFA Club World Cup semi-final match on December 15th, where they will meet the winners of the quarter-final tie between African champions Espérance Tunis and Asian champions Al Sadd in Yokohama.

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Auckland City

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on November 29, 2011

Auckland City FC logoAuckland City are beginning to make a habit out of playing in the FIFA Club World Cup. This year will see the New Zealanders make their third appearance in the competition since 2006 following another O-League success in 2010-11. They will face the Japanese champions in a qualifying play-off and, if successful, will go on to play CONCACAF Champions League holders Monterrey CF in the quarter-finals.

Auckland City qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup having won their third continental title without losing a game. With a record of four wins and two draws in the group phase City got the better of AS Magenta (New Caledonia), AS Tefana (Tahiti) and compatriots Waitakere United with a six point margin separating the two New Zealand clubs who have dominated the O-League in the last six years. In the two-legged final against Vanuatu champions Amicale FC the New Zealanders narrowly won the first leg 2-1 away from home, with goals from Manuel Exposito and Luis Corrales, before sealing the deal in style with a 4-0 return leg victory. Alex Feneridis, Daniel Koprivcic, Exposito and Adam McGeorge hit the back of the net in the home leg and, thus, ensured that the trophy would be winging its way back to Kiwitea Street following previous successes in 2006 and 2009.

Since City won the 2010-11 O-League the club has continued to go from strength to strength in this season’s competition starting off their title defence with back-to-back victories over Koloale FC (Solomon Islands) and 2009-10 champions Hekari United (Papua New Guniea). Auckland City have also began the new domestic season strongly, winning the curtain-raising ASB Charity Cup match and winning all four of their opening ASB Premiership matches. Wins against Waikato FC Hamilton, Team Wellington, Waitakere United and Young Heart Manuwatu have seen City become the only team to maintain a 100% record after four games, scoring seventeen goals and conceding just four times so far.

Having only been founded seven years ago Auckland City have come so far in such a short time but they have yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals in the FIFA Club World Cup. In 2006 they lost to African champions Al Ahly in the quarter-finals before going down to Asian winners Jeonbuk Motors in the 5th/6th play-off. The 2009 tournament proved to be slightly more successful for the New Zealanders as they won a qualifying play-off against host representatives Al Ahli before losing to CONCACAF champions Atlante CF in the quarter-finals but Auckland did have the consolation of winning that year’s 5th/6th play-off game against Africans TP Mazembe. My prediction is that Auckland City may find it difficult to get beyond the qualifying play-off round this time but they continue to do New Zealand football proud just by being there and hopefully they will show some of the attacking football which has won them many prizes domestically.



FIFA: Draw made for 2011 Club World Cup

FIFA Club World CupFC Barcelona, FIFA Club World Cup champions in 2009, will face either African champions Esperance Tunis or Asian champions Al-Sadd in the semi-finals of the 2011 edition.

The tournament, which returns to Japan this time following a two year stint in the United Arab Emirates, will open up on December 8th with the Japanese national champions, as yet undecided, facing off against Oceania champions Auckland City with both clubs hoping for a quarter-final meeting with North and Central American winners Monterrey CF three days later.

The winner of that quarter-final will then go on to face South American champions Santos FC who hope to restore some pride to their continent following last year’s shock exit of Internacional of Porto Alegre at the hands of Africans TP Mazembe.

The competition will be completed on Sunday, December 18th in Yokohama.

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Club World Cup: A History

FC Barcelona FIFA Club World Cup

FC Barcelona won the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009

The FIFA Club World Cup final in Abu Dhabi on Saturday sees European champions Internazionale of Milan face up to their history-making African counterparts TP Mazembe from the Congolese second city of Lubumbashi. Since coming under outright official FIFA control in 2005, the Club World Cup includes all of the seven continental champions fighting it out to become officially the world’s best club side. However for many years the notion of a world club tournament was confined only to the champions of Europe and South America with the tournament having taken plenty of knocks before becoming the respected competition that it is today. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks back at the history of an often controversial, yet thrilling tournament.

The tournament began in 1960 following an invitation to the inaugural Copa Libertadores champions Peñarol to play against European champions Real Madrid, who had just sealed their fifth consecutive win in the European Champions Cup in what was dubbed the “Match of the Century” against Eintracht Frankfurt. The Spanish giants showed their Uruguayan opponents who was boss as los Blancos, following a goalless draw in Montevideo, duly swept Peñarol aside 5-1 to become the first world champions. At least Peñarol would have the chance to get revenge six years later when the two sides met again with the Uruguayans coming out on top having won both home and away with a 2-0 scoreline. Inbetween those games Brazilian side Santos FC, including a certain player by the name of Pelé, and Italians Internazionale FC went on to win back-to-back triumphs in a competition which was starting to gain much importance to those who took part.

Racing Club v Celtic

Racing Club play Celtic in 1967

So much so that the event began to gain an ugly side as the late 1960s approached with Estudiantes de La Plata the worst offenders as they were involved in brutal matches against Manchester United (1968), AC Milan (1969) and Feyenoord Rotterdam (1970). Their violent approach won them no friends but it at least won them the trophy in that first final against United. Following those encounters the event would suffer due to future European champion teams refusing to enter the competition with a succession of runners-up having to take their place. Ajax Amsterdam, who won the European Champions’ Cup from 1971-73, only entered the 1972 event which they won against Independiente, leaving it up to Panathinaikos and Juventus FC to represent Europe in 1971 and 1973 respectively (both of whom lost). The only club to win the Intercontinental Cup without winning their continental title is Atlético de Madrid who, having lost to FC Bayern München in the 1974 European Cup final, took the Bavarians’ place against Independiente that year and won 2-1 on aggregate. The event continued to suffer in the late 1970s with no competition being played at all in the years of 1975 and 1978 whilst in the remaining years only FC Bayern would represent Europe as its champion in 1976 when they defeated Cruzeiro 2-0 on aggregate. The last two finals of the decade saw Borussia Mönchengladbach (1977) and Malmö FF (1979) take part as losing European finalists replacing English clubs Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest respectively, both of whom refused to play due to scheduling problems. Perhaps this was why those two finals were the last ones to be played in a two-legged format. They also represented a power shift towards the South Americans.

FC Porto

FC Porto won their first title in 1987

Following success for Boca Juniors (1977) and Olimpia Asuncion (1979) the tournament became sponsored by the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota and became known as the Toyota Cup in a single match format played in Tokyo with appearance money helping to encourage all future European champions’ participation. But the success kept coming for South America who secured their best run in this tournament with seven consecutive wins from 1977-84 with the likes of Nacional, Peñarol, Flamengo, Grêmio and Independiente getting their hands on the trophy. The biggest losers at this time were the English who lost out in four of those seven finals including Liverpool who were lost out twice in this competition. Juventus stemmed the tide in 1985 beating Argentinos Juniors in the first final to be decided by a penalty shoot-out but River Plate would win it again for South America twelve months later with a 1-0 win over surprise European champions Steaua Bucharest. FC Porto and Nacional traded wins in 1987 and 1988 before Europe would begin to restore some pride with three wins going into the 1990s. AC Milan won consecutive trophies in 1989-90 while Crvena Zvezda ended a successful 1991 with an easy 3-0 win over Colo Colo. The next three years saw a swift return back to South American dominance with Sao Paulo claiming back-to-back titles over FC Barcelona and AC Milan in 1992-93 followed by another defeat for the Italians against Argentinians Velez Sarsfield in 1994.

The Europeans would go on to enjoy the lions share of success in the last decade of the Toyota Cup winning eight of the last ten matches under the one-off match format. Only Boca Juniors tasted success for the CONMEBOL confederation between 1995-2004 with no fewer than seven different clubs lifting the trophy for Europe, Real Madrid CF being the only team amongst them to lift the trophy twice in this period. Following FC Porto’s second triumph in 2004 the competition was finally discontinued as FIFA had finally managed to follow up on its inaugural Club World Championship of 2000 – a competition won by Corinthians against compatriots Vasco da Gama in arguably the most boring cup final ever played – and had opened the tournament to winners of the various continental federations to create a truly global competition.

Since the FIFA Club World Cup, as the tournament is presently known, began in 2005 the honours have been evenly shared between Europe and South America. Sao Paulo became world champions for a third time in that year following a tightly fought final against the unfortunate Liverpool FC who lost for a third time in their history. Internacional kept up Brazilian success in 2006 with a narrow 1-0 over FC Barcelona but the Europeans have won the next three competitions with wins for AC Milan (who are the record winners of this tournament in any guise with four victories), Manchester United and for the present holders FC Barcelona who, after three attempts, finally got their hands on the trophy having come from behind to beat Estudiantes de La Plata in last year’s final.

The 2010 FIFA Club World Cup will see a team from outside Europe and South America compete in the final for the very first time. TP Mazembe, four times champions of Africa, upset the odds in beating South American champions SC Internacional in the semi-finals and will meet UEFA Champions League winners Internazionale FC tomorrow. The Italians are favourites to win the tournament for a third time, forty-five years after their last success, but TP Mazembe are a side who are good at counter attacking and will hope to keep the Nerazzurri at bay for long periods. All in all a fascinating clash of styles awaits and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks forward to a history-making final.

FIFA: Inter make no mistakes to reach final

Posted in Asian Football, European Football by peterbein on December 15, 2010
Rafael Benítez

Rafael Benítez saw his Inter team beat Seongnam 2-0 in Abu Dhabi

At least one team called Inter has made the final of the FIFA Club World Cup this year. European champions Internazionale FC did what their South American counterparts SC Internacional were unable to do and reach the showpiece game of the tournament which takes place on Sunday.

Spanish coach Rafael Benítez was under pressure going into tonight’s game against Asian champions Seongnam Ilhewa Chunma and perhaps the pressure to win the semi-final tie was greater following the shock result which occurred twenty four hours earlier after African team TP Mazembe shocked the Brazilians of Internacional by winning 2-0. Nevertheless Benítez had to put that out of his mind and focus on the job in hand especially as it’s been muted that he could lose his job if he fails to bring the trophy home.

Once Dejan Stanković put the Nerazzurri ahead after three minutes then it proved to be plain sailing for Inter as they controlled the game although it was unfortunate to see Wesley Sneijder go off just sixty seconds after the opening goal with an injury. Inter doubled their lead thanks to Javier Zanetti finishing off a wonderful move in the 32nd minute and from there they effectively kept the South Koreans at bay even though Seongnam upped their efforts in the hope of finding the net. Diego Milito made sure of the win in the 73rd minute with Inter’s third goal and the 2009-10 UEFA Champions League winners ultimately made light work of Seongnam who, despite the disappointment of losing, were happy to have played a part in this year’s tournament.

For coach Benítez Sunday’s final is a real chance to get his hands on the trophy he feels he should’ve won in 2005 when his Liverpool FC team narrowly lost out to São Paulo FC. Now that another potential Brazilian nemesis cannot get in his way this time the chances are that the Italian side can help him make up for five years ago and help keep his job secure until the end of the season at least.

FIFA: Pachuca claim 5th place thanks to Cvitanovich

Posted in Asian Football, North and Central American Football by peterbein on December 15, 2010

Dario CvitanivichNorth and Central American champions Pachuca CF had their Argentinian striker Dario Cvitanvich to thank as they ultimately heralded a fifth place finish in their FIFA Club World Cup 5th/6th play-off match with local favourites Al-Wahda in Abu Dhabi.

The United Arab Emirates champions took a 1-0 lead into the break thanks to an Ismail Matar strike just sixty seconds before the half-time whistle. In the second half Hamdan Al Kamali saw red as he received a second yellow card which left Al-Wahda with ten men and only eighteen minutes left on the clock. However their setback was to be forgotten five minutes later when Mahmoud Al Hammadi popped up to double their lead and it looked like the Mexican side were going to suffer the ignominy of losing both their games in this year’s tournament. But it was with eight minutes to play that the game turned into the Dario Cvitanivich show with the Argentine pulling a goal back in the 82nd minute. With just sixty seconds of normal time to go Cvitanovich guided the ball home from close range to send the game into extra-time, during which there was no further scoring.

Pachuca, who have four continental titles to their name, showed the most composure from twelve yards (eleven metres if you prefer) as they converted all of their four necessary kicks. Al-Wahda, on the other hand, missed with their third and fourth efforts through club captain Abdulraheem Jumaa and Modibi Diarra. This allowed the Mexicans to restore some pride and breathe a sigh of relief as they won the shoot-out 4-2 to seal fifth place in their third FIFA Club World Cup competition.

FIFA: Inter shocked as TP Mazembe make history

Posted in African Football, South America Football by peterbein on December 14, 2010

TP Mazembe crestAfrican champions TP Mazembe have made history defeating Copa Libertadores champions SC Internacional by two goals to nil to secure a berth in the FIFA Club World Cup final, the first time a team from outside Europe or South America has achieved such a feat.

Brazilians Internacional, who won this tournament in 2006, had plenty of chances to score in the game but they found Mazembe’s keeper Muteba Kidiaba in inspired form as he made many saves throughout the game. But the team from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have won back-to-back African Champions Leagues in the last two years, made plenty of chances of their own and it was they who managed to find the net on two occasions in the second half. Milota Kabangu opened the scoring in the 53rd minute, executing a fanstastic shot from outside the Inter penalty box with his right-foot shot curling into the top right corner, leaving Inter keeper Renan flat footed. The game was sealed in the 85th minute when Dioko Kaluyituka ran with the ball from deep inside Inter’s half and drilled a hard and low shot into the bottom corner to send the TP Mazembe fans into ecstasy in the stands whilst those of Internacional were absolutely stunned. TP Mazembe keeper Kidiaba may also win a prize for the best celebration of the tournament after shuffling along the ground on his backside after each goal.

TP Mazembe, having knocked out Mexicans Pachuca in the quarter-finals on Friday as well as Internacional today, will hope that they can go all the way. First they must find out tomorrow who they will face in Sunday’s final as European champions Internazionale FC take on Asian winners Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in the second semi-final.

FIFA: TP Mazembe and Seongnam to meet big boys in semi-finals

TP Mazembe

TP Mazembe (in black and white stripes) upset Pachuca and hope to do the same to Internacional on Tuesday

The quarter-final stages have passed in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup with African champions TP Mazembe and Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma having made it through to the final four of the competition where they will meet South American champions Internacional and European champions Internazionale FC respectively.

TP Mazembe, champions of Africa for the past two seasons, faced up to the North & Central American champions Pachuca in their quarter-final match-up this weekend. Having defeated the Mexicans by a goal to nil, Mbenza Bedi scoring the only goal in the 21st minute, the Congolese side have already bettered their performance in last year’s tournament. Last time out Mazembe were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Pohang Steelers so this year represents further progress on the international stage although the club were disappointed not to win their domestic championship this year, losing out to AS Vita-Club by virtue of goal difference. Nonetheless for coach Lamine N’Diaye Tuesday’s encounter with this year’s Copa Libertadores champions Internacional of Porto Alegre will be an historic match for the club and they will want to upset the odds by becoming the first club from outside Europe or South America to participate in the final of this tournament.

Saša Ognenovski

Saša Ognenovski scored in Seongnam's 4-1 win over Al-Wahda

The same goes for Asian club champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma who defeated United Arab Emirates representatives Al-Wahda by a much more comfortable scoreline of four goals to one. Mauricio Molina, Saša Ognenovski, Choi Sung-Kuk and Cho Dong-Geon scored the goals for the South Korean club who will compete in the semi-finals in their maiden appearance in this tournament. Their opponents on Wednesday are UEFA Champions League winners Internazionale FC who have struggled domestically in recent weeks having taken only five points from their last six Serie A games, their only victory coming against AC Parma a fortnight ago. Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma have completed their K-League season, losing in the 2nd round of  the Championship play-offs and have only played in one competitive fixture since November 24th. For Seongnam’s coach Shin Tae-Yong Wednesday’s game is a real chance to upset the odds and they will hope that the Italians will have another off-day. Inter coach Rafael Benítez, however, has unfinished business in this tournament having been a runner-up with Liverpool FC in 2005 and success in this year’s competition could be the difference between keeping or losing his job.

FIFA: Al-Wahda further local interest with victory over Hekari United

Posted in Asian Football, Oceania Football by peterbein on December 8, 2010

Abu Dhabi stadiumThe FIFA Club World Cup began in Abu Dhabi today with host club Al-Wahda securing their berth in the quarter-finals of the competition following a 3-0 win over underdogs Hekari United.

The tournament is being held for the second year running in the United Arab Emirates. Following the disappointment of national representatives Al-Ahli in last year’s competition, in which they lost 2-0 to Oceania champions Auckland City, Al-Wahda were determined not to suffer the ignominy of going out in the preliminary round and further local interest in this year’s tournament. Al-Wahda’s opponents were Hekari United who came to the Middle East with the status of massive underdogs following their against all odds triumph in the 2009-10 OFC O-League, in which they defeated two-time champions Waitakere United in the final, and guaranteed themselves a shot at the big time. Alas they found it tough going against the home side who were, admittedly, made to work hard for their 2-0 lead going into the half-time break. Goals from Brazilian duo Hugo and Fernando Baiano came in the last five minutes before the break and meant that the Papua New Guinea team would need a miracle to turn it around in the second half.

Sadly for Hekari, despite their greater possession, they were unable to score and they were made to rue their profligacy in front of goal. Al-Wahda just had that little bit more extra quality which made the difference and so it proved when Abdulrahim Jumaa scored the third goal with twenty minutes still to play. With only two yellow cards shown all game, one for each team, the South African referee Daniel Bennett would’ve been pleased to have such a quiet game to preside over.

Hekari United certainly didn’t disgrace themselves and can hold their heads high as they get back to normal business in January, hoping to defend the OFC O-League in order to qualify for this competition again next year. As for Al-Wahda, following a good performance, they will find it tougher in their quarter-final match-up against Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma which will be played on Saturday, twenty-four hours after the first quarter-final which pits African champions TP Mazembe against North & Central American champions Pachuca CF.