8 Dec 2016

Sport: OFC champs Auckland City prepared for Club World Cup

2:11 pm on 8 December 2016

The Auckland City assistant coach Ivan Vicelich believes his side is as prepared as they can be for the FIFA Club World Cup, which starts in Japan tonight.

The OFC Champions League winners open up against J-League winners Kashima Antlers in Yokohama tonight, with the winner advancing to a quarter final showdown with African champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

Auckland City have been to the Club World Cup seven times and finished third in 2014.

Ivan Vicelich in action for Auckland City

Former player and now Auckland City assistant coach Ivan Vicelich. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

They've played two warmup matches in Asia and Vicelich said he was happy with where they were at.

"We've had very good preparation. I think the squad that the club and Ramon (Tribulietx) have put together is really strong," he said.

"I think the guys are working really hard, they've worked really hard over the last three or four months.

"Unfortunately we've had a couple of injuries that have taken a few key players away from us but the strength in the squad is really good and I think we've definitely got the players that can step up and keep us in that game to give us a a chance of getting a result."

Auckland captain Angel Berlanga and teammates celebrate winning the OFC Champions League in April.

Auckland captain Angel Berlanga and teammates celebrate winning the OFC Champions League in April. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Captain Angel Berlanga said experience will help them.

"Every year I think we evolve a bit so we are a bit better and experience is something really important in these kind of games so we have really experienced players and also with the addition of some young players it will be a more interesting game than last year."

The Navy Blues were beaten in the first round of last year's tournament by Japanese club Hiroshima.

Auckland City will also help mark a FIFA Club World Cup record, with tonight's match the 100th game in the competition's history.

Auckland City were beaten last year by Japanese club Hiroshima.

Auckland City were beaten last year by Japanese club Hiroshima. Photo: PHOTOSPORT