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FIFA Club World Cup: Best Asian Performances

Published on: Dec 04 at 6:00am

Kuala Lumpur: Champions of all six continental club competitions return to the United Arab Emirates for the first time since 2010 as the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup kicks-off on Wednesday.

Two Asian teams will participate in this year's competition; Urawa Red Diamonds qualified as AFC Champions League winners while UAE champions Al Jazira represent the host nation.

Ahead of the tournament opener between Al Jazira and Auckland City on Wednesday, the-AFC.com remembers the best Asian performances in the history of the FIFA Club World Cup.

Urawa Red Diamonds - 2007

Urawa's return to the FIFA Club World Cup this year will mark 10 years since they impressed the world with their performances on their competition debut. 

In 2007, less than a month after defeating Islamic Republic Iran's Sepahan in the AFC Champions League final, Urawa triumphed over the same opponents in the quarter-final of the FIFA Club World Cup at the Toyota Stadium. 

The victory set up a semi-final clash against European giants AC Milan.

Just a game away from a historic final, Urawa managed to hold Milan to a goalless draw at half time before eventually falling to a second half Clarence Seedorf strike.

Despite that disappointment, the Reds went on to become the first Asian side to clinch bronze at the FIFA Club World Cup after a penalty shootout victory over Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel in the third place play-off.

Brazilian striker Washington netted a brace to finish as the tournament's top scorer with 3 goals.

Al-Sadd - 2011

After putting an end to a five-year domination of East Asian clubs in the AFC Champions League, Qatar’s Al-Sadd headed to Japan for the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup looking to scale further heights.

Their first match saw them successfully navigate African champions Esperance and progress to the semi-finals with a 2-1 win.

This set the stage for a dream fixture with FC Barcelona at the International Stadium Yokohama, where the UEFA Champions League winners showed their quality with a convincing 4-0 victory.

Al-Sadd were left with the possibility of finishing third if they could get the better of fellow Asian side Kashiwa Reysol in the play-off.

Eventually, the Qatari side went into the history books as the first West Asian side to finish third in the Club World Cup, with a 5-3 win on penalties over Kashiwa after a goalless stalemate in normal time.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima - 2015

 

In 2015, the FIFA Club World Cup returned to Japan after a two-year absence and Sanfrecce Hiroshima were perhaps the happiest with that decision as they qualified for the event by virtue of winning the J-League.

This was their second appearance in the tournament after a fifth-place finish in 2012.

After seeing off Oceania champions Auckland City 2-0 in their opening game, Sanfrecce put up an even better performance in the quarter-finals as they stormed past DR Congo’s TP Mazembe with a fine 3-0 victory. 

The semi-final with Copa Libertadores champions River Plate proved to be a hard-fought clash, as Sanfrecce kept the Argentine side at bay for most of the game before succumbing to a 1-0 defeat.

Guangzhou Evergrande were up next for Sanfrecce in an all-Asian encounter in the third place play-off.

The Chinese side took an early lead, but two goals from Douglas saw the Japanese champions win 2-1 and clinch third place.

Kashima Antlers - 2016 

 

After coming up with five third place finishes over the 12 editions of the FIFA Club World Cup, Asia finally went a notch higher in the 2016 edition.

Kashima Antlers, the J-League's most successful side, ensured that their ticket to the global event did not go to waste with a memorable run all the way to the final.

Kashima's campaign could have ended prematurely, after going behind in their first match against Auckland City.

However, they retained their composure to equalise before Mu Kanazaki headed in an 88th minute winner. 

A 2-0 win over African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarter-finals saw Kashima progress to a semi-final clash with Colombia's Atletico Nacional.

Once again, Kashima registered another impressive result, winning 3-0 and creating history as the first Asian club to reach the final.

The biggest match of all came at the very end - the FIFA Club World Cup final against Real Madrid.

Kashima impressed fans across the globe after holding the European champions to a 2-2 draw in normal time, after having led 2-1 courtesy Gaku Shibasaki's brace. 

Cristiano Ronaldo would eventually complete his hat-trick to give Real Madrid the title but that did not take the gloss off what was a remarkable showing by Kashima throughout the tournament. 

Photos: FIFA.com/Getty Images

Source: the-afc.com

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