FIFA's flagship international club tournament is an important dress rehearsal for football in the Middle East, writes Goal.com's Chris Paraskevas.
Thankfully for the Club World Cup, Al Wahda managed an opening day victory over Hekari United to banish painful memories of Al Ahli’s unceremonious opening match exit at the hands of Auckland City last year.
Their continued presence will ensure a local interest in a tournament that largely struggles for credibility amongst football fans and commentators.
Certainly it pales in comparison to its European and South American club equivalents, though this year it takes on an extra importance for its host nation and the surrounding region.
Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid victory means that any football – or for that matter, sporting – event that is hosted in the Gulf or Middle East will be scrutinized.