Ulsan to face Tigres UANL as Club World Cup bid begins
Ulsan Hyundai FC will start their FIFA Club World Cup campaign tomorrow, facing Mexican side Tigres UANL in the opening match of the competition.
The Club World Cup is an annual knockout tournament that brings together six major champions from six continents — the AFC Champions League from Asia, CAF Champions League from Africa, Concacaf Champions League from North America, Copa Libertadores from South America, OFC Champions League from Oceania and the UEFA Champions League from Europe.
The six teams are joined by the domestic league winner of the host nation, this year Qatar, making it a seven-club tournament.
The opening match of the knockout tournament typically pitches the winner of the OFC Champions League against the domestic league winner, with the victor moving on to the second round. As OFC winner Auckland FC have withdrawn from the tournament, the first round was canceled and the Qatari side automatically progress to the second round, where Ulsan enter the tournament.
Ulsan face tough competition from Tigres, the official club of the Autonomous University of Nuevo León, as the majority of the team are also members of the Mexican international squad, which ranks ninth in the world. Captain Guido Pizarro and goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán are both Argentinian internationals, often appearing for the world's No. 7 side.
But Tigres's victory at the 2020 Concacaf Champions League was the club's first continental win, while Ulsan have won the AFC Champions League twice now. Ulsan will be able to fall back on their experience on the international age — and in Qatar, where they also played the AFC Champions League — to try and get an edge over the Mexican side.
Ulsan are also without their former star player Júnior Negrão, commonly known as Junior, who is now a free agent. Junior played a crucial role in the club's AFC Champions League win, scoring seven goals to become the tournament's joint top scorer.
Ulsan and Tigres will face off in the opening game of the Club World Cup, at 5 p.m. local time on Thursday at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Qatar, or 11 p.m. in Korea. The game will be broadcast live on SPOTV.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]