13 Dec The Club World Cup’s Most Memorable Moments
The idea of a tournament played among the most successful club teams from each continent sounds like a fantastic one, right?
It’s disappointing then, that the Club World Cup, which comes around every December and pits the winners of intercontinental cup competitions from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America against each other, is about as popular as a fart in a lift.
Maybe it’s unpopular because it takes place in winter. Perhaps the fact the European side almost always triumphs in the end, removes the element of intrigue. Or possibly the distinct lack of coverage it receives in the media means the average football fan just doesn’t take an interest.
This year’s event sees Real Madrid travel to the United Arab Emirates to take on the likes of Al Jazira, Pachuca and Gremio in an effort to be crowned world champions. Yes, they’ll probably win it without breaking a sweat, and yes, they’ll probably rest most of their best players, but the Club World Cup has seen some great moments down the years, so here’s our top 5 to get you in the mood:
Necaxa down the Galacticos
History shows that the winner of this year’s tournament might be not a foregone conclusion. In the inaugural edition of the competition in the year 2000, a Real Madrid side containing the likes of Raul, Fernando Morientes and Nicolas Anelka jetted out to Sao Paolo in a bid to retain the tag of World Champions they’d earned by beating Vasco da Gama in a one-off match the previous year.
Back then the tournament used a group stage format, in which Los Blancos finished second behind Corinthians, meaning they qualified only for the third-placed play-off against unfancied Mexican outfit Necaxa.
It may have served as a glorified friendly, but Real boss Vicente del Bosque put out a strong starting XI for the match, and his decision looked to be vindicated when Raul opened the scoring after just 15 minutes. But Necaxa had other ideas, and repelled a succession of attacks until, just before the hour mark, Augustin Delgado burst past Fernando Hierro and Ivan Helguera before arrowing a shot beyond the reach of Albano Bizzarri in goal.
After that, the match went to penalties, and once Steve McManaman and Javier Dorado had missed for the Spanish side, Delgado slotted the winning penalty to render his teammates delirious, and ensure a third-place finish in the first ever edition of tournament.
Kidiaba’s Crazy Celebration
In 2010, African Champions League winners TP Mazembe beat both Pachuca and Internacional on their way to the final against Rafa Benitez’s Inter Milan. Once they got there, goals from Goran Pandev, Samuel Eto’o, and Jonathan Biabiany ensured victory for the Nerazzurri, and meant the Congolese outfit flew home from Dubai empty-handed.
But not before their goalkeeper had caught the world’s attention. After his side’s second goal against Internacional, Robert Kidiba decided the best way to celebrate would to be, for want of a better phrase, shuffle his arse along the turf with a vague rhythm to his movement.
He refers to it, supposedly, as his “donkey dance”. No, I’ve no idea why either.
Ceni Scores a Penalty
Jose Luis Chilavert might be known as the original goalscoring goalkeeper, but Brazilian stopper Rogerio Ceni, who spent his entire 23-year playing-career with Sao Paolo, managed to score 19 more goals than his Paraguayan counterpart in the course of his playing time, ending up with a whopping 65 to his name by the time he hung up his boots in 2015.
One of those came in the 2005 edition of the Club World Cup, which Ceni and his teammates went on to win against Liverpool in the final.
But in order to get them there, Ceni’s penalty-taking nous was required in the semi-final against Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad. With the score at 2-1, Ceni stepped up to send his opposite number the wrong way and give his side a two-goal cushion.
Despite Hamad Al-Montashari reducing the deficit, Sao Paolo held on and Ceni’s goal proved to be the winner.
Raja’s Run to the Final
The 2013 Club World Cup was the first to be held in Morocco, and as a reward for serving as hosts’, the country’s reigning league champions were invited to take part in the tournament as special guests. That meant Raja Casablanca, 11-times winners of the Botola, could play in front of their home supporters. And boy, did they give them something to cheer…
Entering as complete underdogs, the club, which was set up in 1949 by nationalists fighting against French rule, ended up in the final, courtesy of three consecutive wins against Auckland City, Monterrey, and Atlético Mineiro.
They were eventually beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich in the final, but their run included some great moments, arguably the most notable of which was striker Mouchine Iajour’s opener in the semi-final against the Brazilian side. With 5 minutes on the clock, he opened the scoring with an angled drive into the corner of the net, sending the home supporters into rapturous celebrations. Despite Ronaldinho’s equaliser, Raja scored another two goals to secure their place in the final, and at the end of the tournament, Iajour received the bronze ball trophy, having been voted the competition’s third best player.