Can an Asian team triumph in the FIFA Club World Cup?

The FIFA Club World Cup begins on Thursday in Japan, where seven teams from six football confederations around the world will battle it out.

Newly crowned AFC Champions League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai will represent Asia along with Kashima Antlers of Japan, who qualified as national champion of the host nation.

The duo will be up against some top class opposition that includes European champions Real Madrid and Colombia’s Atletico Nacional.

So how far can Asia’s representative’s expect to go? FOX Sports Asia takes a look at how the AFC’s representatives have fared over the years.

In the inaugural edition back in 2000, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr represented the AFC but failed to progress past the group stage following defeats at the hands of Real Madrid and Corinthians and a victory over Raja Casablanca, although they did take home the fair play award.

After a five year hiatus the next edition in 2005 – the tournament now a straight knockout competition – saw another Saudi side Al-Ittihad represent Asia. After a 1-0 victory over Al-Ahly in the quarters, the Saudis went down 3-2 to Sao Paulo in the semifinal and then lost the third-place playoff to secure fourth place.

A year later it was the turn of Jeonbuk Hyundai, who lost 1-0 to Mexico’s America in their quarterfinal before beating Auckland City 3-0 to take fifth place overall. Their feat was matched by Sepahan of Iran in 2007, while AFC Champions League winners Urawa Red Diamonds took third spot.

Jeonbuk have been here before in 2006.

2008 saw two AFC representatives in Adelaide United and Gamba Osaka. The Australians lost out 1-0 to Osaka in the quarters and finished in fifth place, while Osaka took third after losing 5-3 to eventual champions Manchester United in the semifinals.

Korea’s Pohang Steelers took third place in 2009, while host nation club Al-Ahli were knocked out in the first match.

The two AFC clubs met in the quarterfinals a year later, with Seongnam Ilhwa of Korea putting paid to Al-Wadha’s hopes before securing fourth spot following a semifinal loss to eventual champions Inter Milan.

2011 saw AFC Champions League winners Al-Sadd battle it out with host representative Kashiwa Reysol of Japan for third place, the Qataris winning on penalties as Barcelona took the title.

Twelve months later Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Ulsan Hyundai of Korea were both eliminated in the quarters, eventually finishing in fifth and sixth place respectively.

China’s Guangzhou Evergrande were the AFC representative in 2013, finishing in fourth place after a semifinal defeat to winners Bayern Munich.

Guangzhou Evergrande in 2014.

In 2014, Western Sydney Wanderers went out at the quarterfinal stage and took sixth place, while last year host Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat AFC Champions League winners Guangzhou Evergrande in the playoff for third place.

In short, AFC teams have yet to make the final, their best finish being third place on several occasions.

Can Jeonbuk Hyundai or Kashima Antlers finally buck that trend?

Comments