With the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup encroaching and Real Madrid ready to defend their title, it is time to take a look at all the clubs who have already punched a ticket into the tournament.
Al Jazira (UAE Champions)
Al Jazira is an Abu Dhabi based club playing in the UAE Pro-League. They were founded in 1974 following a merger between Khalidiyah and Al Bateen. Al Jazira is currently managed by Henk ten Cate a former professional left winger who played in Holland’s first division. His managerial resume includes Vitesse, Barcelona (assistant), Ajax, and Chelsea (assistant).
The club’s most valuable players include former Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra and club captain Ali Khaseif, who has been with the club since 2008 and is a consistent member of the United Arab Emirates national team.
Auckland City (Oceania Champions)
Auckland City is ISPS Handa Premiership club based in New Zealand’s largest city. The club was founded in 2004 and is considered the powerhouse team in New Zealand, having won six championships since their birth. Auckland is managed by Barcelona native Ramon Tribulietx. Since his arrival in 2010, Ramon has won the club a FIFA Club World Cup Bronze medal, Seven OFC Champions Leagues, 5 New Zealand Football Championships, and three Charity Cups.
Tribulietx’s track record speaks for itself, but what about his players? The club is captained by Angel Berlanga, a 30-year-old Spanish center back from Madrid. The club’s Spanish roots do not end there as the team’s starting goalkeeper and midfielder hail from Spain. Goalkeeper Enaut Goni played for Real Sociedad for seven years while midfielder Albert Riera played for A-League side Wellington Phoenix for three years.
Pachuca (CONCACAF Champions)
C.F. Pachuca is a Liga MX club from Pachuca, Hidalgo. The club was founded in 1901 by Cornish Miners and acts as one of the oldest clubs in the Americas. The club’s fantastic history has seen them win six national championships, four CONCACAF Champions’ Cups, and one Copa Sudamericana Cups.
The team is managed by Diego Alonso, a former Uruguay international. His playing career saw him play for notable La Liga sides including Malaga, Atletico Madrid, and Valencia. As a manager, his career has been short. His first job was in 2011 with Bella Vista. Three years and three different teams later, he landed at Pachuca. Since his arrival in 2014, Alonso has earned the club a Liga MX Clausura title and a CONCACAF Champions League trophy.
Notable Pachuca players include Omar Gonzalez and Keisuke Honda. Honda is a Japanese International who is more famous for his time with CSKA Moscow and AC Milan. He has played 90 games for Japan and has scored 36 goals. He recently joined Pachuca in 2017. As for Omar Gonzalez, he is an American international who has spent time with the LA Galaxy and FC Nurnberg in Germany. He has made just under 50 caps with the United States.