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Written By Jacobs Dunga 

The reigning Saudi Arabian champions set a new benchmark for an opening game in the tournament.

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Saudi Pro League side Al Ittihad flagged off the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup on Tuesday when they took to the field against Australian champions Auckland City.


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It was a battle for a place in the last eight for the two Asian clubs with the Jeddah based giants claiming bragging rights over their counterparts from Auckland.

The King Abdullah Sports City Stadium was packed with a whopping 50,248 fans, a new record for the opening game of any Club World Cup tournament.

The home fans did make their presence count as they cheered the Tigers to a resounding 3-0 victory over Auckland City.

Three first half goals from Romarinho, N’Golo Kante and Karim Benzema put the nail on the coffin of the Australian side.

The SPL has been gaining deserved reputation in the past few months and the reigning champions did well to justify the investment the league has witnessed.

Former winners, N’Golo Kante, Karim Benzema and Fabinho were all instrumental in Marcelo Gallardo side’s victory.

A date with African and Egyptian champions Al Ahly is waiting in the quarter finals with the Jeddah based club playing for history to reach the last four.

Meanwhile…

During the post match briefing, experienced attacker Igor Coronado commended the fans for coming out en masse to push the team to victory.

“I said many times, I don’t mind repeating it: Al Ittihad fans know when they show up they push us, always make an extra player on the field.”

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“It’s important for the world to see how much the fans in Saudi Arabia love football.”

The Ittihad faithfuls expectedly chanted on top of their voices all through the game as their club cruised to victory over another Asian rival.

Such atmosphere will be expected once more when the team take to the field in the quarter finals against African champions Al Ahly on Friday.

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