Barcelona 2011 FIFA Club World Cup
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2012 FIFA Club World Cup gets underway on Thursday

The annual FIFA Club World Cup kicks off in Japan early tomorrow morning (as far as Pacific Time goes) with the CONCACAF region being represented by Mexican team Club de Fútbol Monterrey.

The 10-day event in Asia features the six teams that won their confederation’s biggest prize: Ulsan Hyundai (Korea, Asia), Al-Ahly SC (Egypt, Africa), Chelsea FC (England, Europe), CF Monterrey (Mexico, Central America, North America and the Caribbean), Auckland City FC (New Zealand, Oceania) and Corinthians (Brazil, South America).

J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima will represent the host country.

The competition begins with a playoff between Auckland City and Sanfrecce at 2.45 a.m. PT Thursday morning, with the winner of that game moving on to a quarterfinal battle with Al-Ahly on December 9.

Awaiting the winner of that game will be automatic semi-finalists Corinthians on December 12.

In the other quarterfinal, Ulsan will meet Monterrey on December 8 with the victorious side in that encounter set to meet English giants and UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea in Yokohama on December 13.

The final will take place on December 16.

How they got there

To qualify for this year’s Club World Cup, Monterrey finished top of their 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League group (which also featured Seattle Sounders FC) before sweeping aside Mexican clubs Morelia and UNAM in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.

Monterrey then edged another Mexican outfit in Santos Laguna (who dispatched surprise semi-finalists Toronto FC) to lift their second consecutive Champions League trophy in April.

The quest begins again

Vancouver Whitecaps FC begin their quest to represent CONCACAF in the 2014 Club World Cup when they take on FC Edmonton in the two-legged semifinal of the 2013 Amway Canadian Championship on April 24 and May 1.

Should they win, Whitecaps FC will meet either Toronto FC or Montreal Impact in the final – also held over two legs – on May 15 and May 29, with the winner to represent Canada in the 2013-14 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League.

The successful Canadian team will be joined in the tournament by 2012 MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy, MLS Cup runners-up Houston Dynamo, 2012 Supporters’ Shield winners San Jose Earthquakes and 2012 U.S Open Cup champions Sporting Kansas City.

And the winner of the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League will then play in the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup.