Al Jazira’s place at this year’s Fifa Club World Cup in the UAE was confirmed late on Monday when Al Ain were knocked out of the Asian Champions League.
Jazira had been provisionally slated to take the slot reserved for the host country’s champions after winning the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League. The Club World Cup takes place from December 6-16, with matches played in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Spanish giants Real Madrid have already booked their spot.
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Al Ain’s continued involvement in this year’s Champions League threatened to displace Jazira, though, since two clubs from the host country could not enter.
The Club World Cup brings together the champions from the six continental confederations and the previous year's league winners from the host country.
However, Al Ain were defeated 3-0 by Al Hilal in the second leg of their quarter-final in Riyadh on Monday to lose the tie 3-0 on aggregate and exit the tournament. That cleared the path for Jazira, who can now look forward to a potential match against Madrid.
Jazira kick off the tournament against Oceania champions Auckland City at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed on December 6 in a play-off to reach the quarter-finals. Madrid enter the competition at the semi-final stage.
Mexico’s Pachuca, winners of the 2016/17 Concacaf Champions League, are the only other team to have confirmed their place. The champions from South America, Africa and Asian will all be decided in November.
The UAE is hosting the Club World Cup for the third time having staged the event in 2009 and 2010, with Barcelona and Inter Milan crowned champions. The Emirates will serve as host both this year and next.