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Team Wellington look to shed underdogs tag
December 09, 2018
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ABU DHABI: Team Wellington FC may be heading into their maiden FIFA Club World Cup tournament as underdogs in the eyes of some, but the spirited semi-professionals from New Zealand are determined to make a statement at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE, which includes a seven-star line-up of teams this year featuring some of the world’s most famous football clubs.

Having booked their place in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 with a comprehensive 10-3 aggregate victory over Fiji’s Lautoka FC in the OFC (Oceania) Champions League back in May, the Kiwis are now determined to make full use of the opportunity and establish Team Wellington on the world football map — starting against tournament hosts Al Ain on Dec.12.

The victory over Lautoka secured a first continental crown for a club that only came into existence back in 2004. In contrast, Team Wellington’s opening FIFA Club World Cup opponents Al Ain are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, while defending champions Real Madrid have 116 years of history behind them.

While acknowledging the size of the task ahead — namely facing a first-ever competitive match against a team of professionals from another continent — the reigning New Zealand Football Championship holders do not want their match against Al Ain FC to be a one-off.

“We are expecting the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 to be a huge but exciting challenge for us. It is our first experience playing at this level, something we are very excited about and we are honoured to be representing our Oceania Football Federation region,” said Team Wellington coach Jose Figueira.

“This tournament means a great deal to our club.”
 

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