The draw for the FIFA Club World Cup threw up few surprises yet prospective opponents remain a mystery for Auckland City.
The draw held in Zurich, Switzerland, threw up a possible quarter-final showdown between Auckland City and the champions of Africa - if Auckland City slips past the J-League champions at the International Stadium Yokohama on December 6.
But any thought of a 2009 rematch with the African champions league winners is on hold for coach Ramon Tribulietx as he turns his attention toward the J-League.
"We have played the likes of the African winners in the past and know they are physically and technically very good. They would be very difficult play against," he said, "but our real focus will be the J-League winners which will be a real challenge for us. I don't really want to look too far into the draw - we will take it game by game as we always do."
While the draw beyond the first match looks favourable, Tribulietx is quick to point out the J-League champions won't be easy beats with last year's 2-0 defeat to Kashiwa Reysol a useful yardstick.
"Our aim will be to compete as well as we can. We are the underdogs in the competition although with our participation last year still fresh in our minds we hope to be able to take our game to another level," Tribulietx said.
The J-League - Japan's flagship professional league - has eight rounds left to play, with three clubs San Frecce Hiroshima, Vegalta Sendai, and Urawa Reds all firmly in contention.
Last year's winners Kashiwa Reysol languish in seventh place, 11 points adrift.
"There are three teams in contention for the J-League title at the moment and that makes it difficult to get into much detail. I have some ideas about the top three teams and we will keep a close eye until the end of the competition," Tribulietx said.
The final round of the J-League is played on December 1.
Auckland City prepares for that December 6 clash with a friendly against a local Japanese professional club on November 30th. Tribulietx said the training camp will be shorter than last year for the navy blues.
Asked who would win the FIFA Club World Cup the Barcelona-born Tribulietx said there were three teams to watch out for.
"The two favourites are Chelsea and Corinthians, although in football anything can happen. Africa's TP Mazembe beat the South American club and reached the final with Inter Milan in 2010. CF Monterrey from Mexico is a very good team as well and not too far off those clubs," Tribulietx said.
Auckland City begins its pre-season preparations when they take on a Refugee XI at Bill McKinley Park in Mount Wellington this Sunday.
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