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December 11, 2019

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CWC, a major test for Qatar

FIFA’s Club World Cup gets underway today with host Qatar facing a major test of the country’s ability to deal with an influx of foreign fans.

European champion Liverpool and South America’s top side Flamengo are the favorites to feature in the final at Doha’s Khalifa stadium on December 21. But for Qatar, which hosts the World Cup in November-December 2022, this is the biggest soccer event it has staged.

Organizers have already had to make one late change to their plans with Saturday’s decision not to host matches at the Education City stadium.

The venue was due to host a semifinal involving Liverpool on December 18, the third-place playoff and the final. The Khalifa International Stadium will now host those three matches.

Organizers said the construction of the stadium was complete and the venue was operational but the necessary certification processes took longer than expected and the stadium was unable to host test events at full capacity prior to the event.

On the field, Liverpool, runaway English Premier League leader this season, is the favorite but Flamengo, winner of the Copa Libertadores, will be a strong challenger.

The opening game sees Qatari team al-Sadd take on Hienghene Sport from New Caledonia, the representative of the Oceania confederation.

The winner will earn a clash with Mexico’s Monterrey while the other second-round game sees al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia take on Tunisian club Esperance.

Liverpool and Brazil’s Flamengo join at the semifinal stage, kept apart to provide a strong chance of a clash between them in the final.


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