The FIFA World Club Cup 2008 (Part Two)

As promised last night, here’s the second half of our look at the competitors in this year’s FIFA World Club Cup, starting with the representatives from the host nation, Japan. Host Nation Representatives: Gamba Osaka (Japan) Who Are They, Then? Gamba Osaka are one of just six clubs never to have been relegated from the J-League since it began in 1992. They’re not one of Japan’s best-supported clubs (Osaka is a “baseball town”), and they’ve only won the J-League once, in 2005. They did, however, win the AFC Champions League this year, meaning that they qualify as the Asian champions. How Did They Get Here? The Asian Football Confederation Champions League started in March with Gamba requiring a goal four minutes into injury time from the Brazilian Lucas to salvage a 1-1 draw against the Thai side Chonburi. They went on to win four and draw two of their six group matches to finish top of their group. In the quarter-finals, they beat the Syrian side Al Karamah to set up an all-Japanese semi-final against Urawa Red Diamonds. They drew the first leg 1-1 at home before causing a minor surprise by winning the second leg in Saitama by three goals to one. The final turned out to be a little one-sided, and a 5-0 aggregate win against Adelaide United to become the second successive Japanese winners of the...

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