Oceania Champions League winners Auckland City FC will play the opening match of the FIFA Club World Cup 2022, on 1 Feb in Morocco.
Their opponents in the first game will be CAF Champions League runners-up Al Ahly of Egypt. Auckland have already flown out earlier this week to conduct a training camp in Barcelona, to help the players acclimatise to the conditions.
“Everyone’s in high spirits and looking fit,” defender Adam Bell told local NZ media outlet Newshub.
“We’ve had good numbers at training with our GPS units. We’re up for it, we’re ready to go and it will be a really good tournament for us.”
Auckland qualified for the tournament with a 3-0 over AS Venus of Tahiti in last year’s OFC Champions League final in Auckland, after a hard fought competition that saw them play Hienghène Sport, Rewa and Nikkao Sokattack in their group and Central Coast in their semifinal.
It will be Auckland’s 10th appearance at the tournament, which is a record for all teams involved. Their best ever finish was third place in 2014, when they lost to Argentinean side San Lorenzo in the semifinals then beat Mexican club Cruz Azul in the playoff. Interestingly, that tournament was also held in Morocco.
“When the champions of all the continents meet to crown the champion of the planet, the champion of the world, this is a special occasion, and this will take place in a very special country, in a great football environment,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
“We’re looking very much forward to coming]to Rabat and to Tangier, to visit an entire country, and to cheer for the champions of all the continents and see who finally will be crowned champion of the world.”
Al Ahly have come in despite being runners up as local side Wydad Casablanca won the CAF Champions League. The other champion sides are: Flamengo (Brazil, CONMEBOL), Real Madrid (Spain, UEFA), Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia, AFC) and Seattle Sounders FC (USA, CONCACAF).
The path to #ClubWC glory! 🏆 🤩
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) January 13, 2023