Star-studded squad named to face Auckland City at FIFA Club World Cup

Auckland City’s first-round opponents at the FIFA Club World Cup have named a star-studded squad ahead of the tournament in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi club Al-Ittihad will send arguably the strongest-ever squad outside Europe or South America to a FIFA Club World Cup, with head coach Marcelo Gallardo picking the likes of Karim Benzema, Luiz Felipe, N’Golo Kante, Fabinho and Jota.

Main photo: Karim Benzema … winner of the coveted Ballon d’Or. Photo credit:

Al-Ittihad meet Auckland City on Wednesday December 13 (NZT) with the winner earning a second-round tie against Egypt’s Al Ahly, who are the current African champions.

World Cup winner N’Golo Kante. Photo credit:

The big names in the tournament squad list include:

  • French legend Karim Benzema is a past winner of the UEFA Player of the Year and the coveted Ballon d’Or. Capped 97 times by France, he played 112 games for French club Lyon and 439 for Spain’s Real Madrid.
  • Defensive midfielder N’Gole Kante has played more than 50 internationals for France, and was a FIFA World Cup winner in 2018 and was in the squad that won the 2021 Euro Nations Cup. He made more than 200 appearances in the English Premier League with Leicester City and Chelsea before moving to Saudi Arabia this year.
  • Braziian defensive midfielder Fabhino joined Al-Ittihad this year after 151 games for English Premier League club Liverpool, with whom he won the EPL title. He went to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar with Brazil for whom he’s played 29 times.
  • Winger Jota has made 72 appearances at age group level for Portugal was in his country’s FIFA World Cup training squad last year. He joined Al-Ittihad from Scotland’s Celtic.
  • Brazil-born centre-back Luiz Felipe plays for the Italian national team, despite playing age-group internationals for the country of his birth.

Al-Ittihad’s head coach Gallardo (47) is a former Argentina international with 44 caps who joined the Saudi club on an 18-month contract after eight years in charge of South American giants River Plate.

The seven contenders for the FIFA Club World Cup have named their 23-man squads.

Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland will represent UEFA Champions League holders Manchester City at the tournament. Kevin De Bruyne, not featured since the opening day of the Premier League season in August due to injury, has also been included in the squad.

Fluminense right-back Samuel Xavier will join other key players such as Real Madrid legend Marcelo, 22-year-old Seleção midfielder Andre, Colombia winger Jhon Arias and Argentina’s German Cano.

Click here to download the squad lists >>>>>


Name / age / nationality


1 Abdullah Al-Mayouf (36), Saudia Arabia
34 Marcelo Grohe (36), Brazil
88 Osama Mubarak Hajaj Al Marwash (20), Saudi Arabia

4 Omar Othman (38), Saudi Arabia
5 Luiz Felipe (26), Italy
12 Zakaria Al Hawsawi (22), Saudi Arabia
13 Muhannad Alshanqiti (24), Saudi Arabia
15 Hassan Kadesh (31), Saudi Arabia
25 Suwailem Al Menhali (19), Saudi Arabia
26 Ahmed Hegazi (32), Egypt
28 Ahmed Bamasud (28), Saudi Arabia
33 Madallah Al-Olayan (29), Saudi Arabia

6 Sultan Al Farhan (27), Saudi Arabia
7 N’Golo Kante (32), France
8 Fabinho (30), Brazil
10 Igor Coronado (31), Brazil
16 Faisal AI Ghamdi (22), Saudi Arabia
17 Marwan Al Sahafi (19), Saudi Arabia

9 Karim Benzema (35), France
11 Jota (24), Portugal
24 Abdulrahman Al-Obud (28), Saudi Arabia
77 Saleh Al-Jamaan (30), Saudi Arabia
90 Romarinho (32), Brazil
99 Abderrazak Hamdallah (32), Могоссо


Head coach: Marcelo Gallardo
Assistant coach: Matias Biscay
Assistant coach: Hernan Bujan
Assistant coach: Mariano Barnao
Assistant coach: Khalifa Hassan
Goalkeeper coach: Cesar Zinelli

Auckland City

1 Conor Tracey (26), New Zealand
18 Joe Wallis (18), New Zealand
24 Sebastian Ciganda (30), Uruguay

2 Mario Ilich (28), New Zealand
3 Adam Mitchell (27), New Zealand
4 Christian Gray (27), New Zealand
5 Timothy Boulet (25), Vanuatu
12 Regont Murati (27), New Zealand
13 Nathan Lobo (20), New Zealand
14 Jordan Vale (29), New Zealand
23 Alfie Rogers (28), New Zealand

7 Cam Howieson (captain), (29), New Zealand
8 Gerard Garriga (30), Spain
15 Aidan Carey (22), New Zealand
22 Tong Zhou (33), China PR
25 Michael Den Heijer (27), New Zealand

9 Angus Kilkolly (27), New Zealand
10 Dylan Manickum (29), New Zealand
11 Ryan De Vries (32), New Zealand
16 Joe Lee (21), New Zealand
19 Liam Gillion (21), New Zealand
20 Emiliano Tade (35), Argentina

Head coach: Albert Riera
Assistant coach: Ivan Vicelich
Goalkeeper coach: Enaut Zubikarai
Fitness: Adria Casals
Logistics: Keith Coton
Physio: Matt Payne


FIFA Club World Cup

Game to be played on Wednesday December 13 (NZT)

Al-Ittihad v Auckland City
King Abdulah Sports City Stadium, 7am (NZT)

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