Following on from their impressive ADNOC UAE Pro League title win last season, Al Jazira were given the opportunity to participate in the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup.
Adding to the sense of occasion for Al Jazira and all associated with the club was the fact that the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup was taking place in the UAE and their matches were to be played at their home stadium, the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.
With representatives from Europe, South America, Asia and Africa taking part, the Club World Cup is the flagship event in club football for FIFA, and once again an unforgettable showpiece was staged.
Only the top team from each continent is invited to take part in the Club World Cup, and by virtue of being the host club/country and winning the ADNOC league title in 2021, Al Jazira got their second chance to etch their names into the history books – having last qualified back in 2017.
The format for the 2021 Club World Cup has evolved somewhat since its inception and now ranks teams in a seeding system within the tournament itself.
Relevant coefficients and past results are always considered, and for Al Jazira, it meant that they entered the competition at the first preliminary round, where they took on AS Pirae – the Tahitian national champions who went on to qualify through the Oceania strand of FIFA’s operation.
When two teams from other sides of the world meet, contrasting footballing ideologies are often present for all to see, and it was the hosts Al Jazira who dominated from the off.
Playing in front of passionate home support, Al Jazira found themselves 3-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Zayed Al Ameri, Ahmed Al Attas and Miloš Kosanović.
AS Pirae didn’t give up hope and got back into the game through an unfortunate M’Hammed Rabii own goal before Abdoulay Diaby’s strike restored Al Jazira’s three-goal advantage, and the hosts went on to seal an impressive 4-1 win at a buoyant Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.
The joy of the opening-game win over AS Pirae was short-lived, however, as Al Jazira took on Al Hilal who ply their trade in the Saudi Pro League.
Al Jazira made the dream start in the match, with Diaby opening the scoring, but Al Hilal turned on the style to pick up a crunching 6-1 win and consign Al Jazira to fighting it out in the fifth/sixth-place playoff at the end of the week.
Mexican champions C.F. Monterrey stood in between Al Jazira and their shot at glory, and their superiority rang through from the outset as they found themselves 3-0 up and cruising before half-time.
To their credit, Al Jazira never gave up hope and grabbed a deserved consolation through Bruno, but it wasn’t to be, and they were consigned to a sixth-place finish in the tournament.