An OFC Trio of officials will take centre stage at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan tonight for the fifth and sixth place match between Adelaide United and Al Ahly.
New Zealand official Peter O’Leary has been appointed as the referee for the match while Brent Best (New Zealand) and Matthew Taro (Solomon Islands) will assist him.
"Everyone in team OFC is looking forward to the game, it’s such a great opportunity for all of us," O’Leary said.
O’Leary said it has been the most intensive tournament he has been involved in.
"We have been busier here than at any other FIFA tournaments I have been involved in," he said.
"There is more use of the computers in the FIFA RAP website and there are also a number of photos, videos and other activities that we are expected to do while we are not busy with seminars."
O’Leary said that early days at the tournament consisted of optional Energy Performance sessions for 30 minutes before breakfast, followed by a 2.5 hour training session which incorporated many different drills and focused on teamwork with the referee team and identifying fouls.
The match will take place at the International Stadium in Yokohama and the intriguing clash will determine fifth and sixth place at the tournament.
Adelaide began the tournament with a win over Oceania champions Waitakere United before suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat to Gamba Osaka. The Egyptian heavweights, meanwhile, let slip a 2-0 half-time lead against Pachuca, eventually going down 4-2 after extra time and missing out on a coveted semi-final spot.
Al Ahly-Adelaide United, Yokohama, Thursday, 18 December 2008, 16.30 (local time)
Both teams will be looking to put their quarter-final disappointments behind them and finish the FIFA Club World Cup 2008 on a high note. The Egyptian side came to Japan with lofty ambitions, and will be looking to take at least some token consolation home with them.
Having finished third at Japan 2006, the team built around midfield maestro Mohamed Aboutrika were looking to go at least one better this year. However, after their bitter defeat to Pachuca, the best that Al Ahly can hope for is a repeat of their 2005 performance, when they won the match for fifth place 2-1 against another Australian team, Sydney FC.
7 – If Wael Gomaa, Mohamed Aboutrika, Shady Mohamed and Hossam Ashour all play for Al Ahly, it would be their seventh FIFA Club World Cup match each, overtaking Brazilian keeper Dida to set a new appearance record for the competition.
Al Ahly forward Flavio will be 29 years old on 30 December, so a win over Adelaide would be a nice early present for the Angolan.
"I respect Adelaide United, but we just need to play our own game like we did in the final of the African Champions League. If we can do that, we have a good chance of winning the match. A win would be the best way of answering all our critics. My players are mentally very strong – we have won a lot of trophies and written plenty of chapters of our country’s footballing history over the past 50 years. The defeat to Pachuca has merely provided us with an extra source of motivation," Manuel Jose, Al Ahly coach.
"Al Ahly are a very strong and experienced team with a long-standing tradition. They have won the African Champions League on a number of occasions and are taking part in the FIFA Club World Cup for the third time. They played very well against Pachuca, so we’re expecting a tough match," Aurelio Vidmar, Adelaide United coach.