Dubai: Returning for the third time in four years, Al Hilal SFC are set to become the first Asian side to participate in three editions of the FIFA Club World Cup.
The Saudi giants move clear of eight other clubs who have appeared in the competition twice; Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Urawa Red Diamonds, Al Sadd SC, Ulsan Hyundai, Guangzhou Evergrande, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Kashima Antlers and Al Jazira.
Al Hilal prepare to face hosts Wydad AC of Morocco as they attempt to better their previous two fourth-place finishes. The-AFC.com looks back at the two previous campaigns enjoyed by the Riyadh powerhouse.
Kuala Lumpur: Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC are set to represent Asia in the 19th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup, a competition that has long provided some thrilling encounters for Asian teams over the years.
Ahead of the competition kicking-off in Morocco at the start of February, the-AFC.com takes a stroll down memory lane by exploring some of the finest matches involving Asian teams in Club World Cup history.
Riyadh: Odion Ighalo crashed to the Saint Petersburg turf, desolate. A Lionel Messi wonder goal had helped extinguish his FIFA World Cup dream.
Ighalo hadn’t even departed Krestovsky Stadium by the time he was obsessing over Qatar 2022. The Nigeria striker knew he’d be 33 at the time. He was desperate to be there.
And he was. Yet not in a capacity Ighalo could have ever imagined. The Lagos native was part of Nigeria squad that agonisingly lost on away goals to arch-rivals Ghana in a playoff for a place at the 22nd World Cup. Ighalo nevertheless travelled to Qatar to passionately support a country he had never even stepped foot in two years ago.
After a fruitful spell at Al Shabab, Ighalo crossed Riyadh to join Al Hilal in January 2021 – just days before they debuted in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021. It was the start of a love affair between the player and the Saudi Arabian superpower.
FIFA+ caught up with Ighalo to discuss his goalscoring exploits, Al Hilal’s ambitious quest to beat the likes of Flamengo and Real Madrid to the Morocco 2022 trophy, the passion of his club’s fans, his admiration for Salem Al Dawsari, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe, and his Qatar 2022 experience.
Five Asian players who impressed at the FIFA Club World Cup
Dubai: The FIFA Club World Cup offers clubs from the across the world an opportunity to test their skills against the finest opponents from every continent, and over the years many an Asian player has left their mark in the competition.
With the next edition, where the continent will be represented by Al Hilal SFC in Morocco, fast approaching, the-AFC.com recalls five players who impressed in the competition.