Doha, Qatar – European champions Liverpool are set to launch their campaign at the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar, seeking a maiden title at the tournament.
The Reds, who qualified for the seven-team club event by clinching their sixth European Champions League trophy in June, will play Mexican side Monterrey in the semi-final on Wednesday.
CONCACAF champions Monterrey beat hosts Al Sadd, led by former Barcelona player Xavi Hernandez, 3-2 on Saturday to book their spot in the last four.
Kick-off is at 8:30pm local time (17:30 GMT) at the 45,000-capacity Khalifa International Stadium in the capital, Doha.
“This competition gives the squad the opportunity to achieve something new, the chance to win Liverpool’s first-ever Club World Cup,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said upon the team’s arrival in Doha on Sunday.
“It’s been a busy but incredible year and of course we will give everything to wrap up 2019 with this title,” the German said.
Antonio Mohamed, Monterrey’s head coach, admitted that his side, which is making its fourth appearance at the annual tournament, have a tough task ahead.
“It’s clear that against Liverpool we are going to have to play the perfect game,” he said at a media conference on Saturday.
“Football is very competitive and even but not so against a team like Liverpool. They have a team with a lot of energy.”
The winner will either play South American champions Flamengo, of Brazil, or Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, who compete in the other semi-final played later on Tuesday.
The FIFA Club World Cup is an annual tournament that features the winners of the continental confederations as well as the host’s league champions.
“I was here when they bid for the World Cup in 2010, so this is one of the major events they will have in the lead-up,” Andrea Price, from Adelaide, Australia, told Al Jazeera.
“It’s very important in many aspects, for the fan zones, for the transport, for the stadium organisation,” the 38-year-old Doha resident, who will be in attendance for the Liverpool-Monterrey match, said.
Fans from the United Kingdom, Brazil and Mexico have travelled to Qatar for the tournament.
On Sunday, Liverpool issued travel guidelines for all its supporters making the trip to Doha.
“Qatar is a conservative country based on sharia [Islamic] law. Visitors should familiarise themselves with local laws and customs prior to travel and be mindful that behaviours that are acceptable in the UK might be considered offensive in Doha,” the club said on its website, quoting advice from the UK foreign office.
While drinking is not allowed inside stadiums, fans can have alcohol at different hotels and the Fan Zone at Doha Sports Park, where the matches are being screened.
‘We love Mo Salah’
Meanwhile, excitement is building up in the capital for the highly anticipated match, which will be played on Qatar’s National Day, December 18.
A star-studded Liverpool lineup featuring captain Jordan Henderson, Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah and Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino will be in action.
“I’m excited to see Mohamed Salah,” Silvana Mitias, 35, from Egypt, told Al Jazeera.
“[He’s had] a very, very great influence … we’re all very proud of him, all the Egyptians, and I think all the Arabs,” she said of her compatriot.
In April, the 27-year-old became the eighth Liverpool player to score 50 Premier League goals.
Last year, he was named Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year in England, after he scored 44 goals for Liverpool in all competitions.
A Liverpool fan and Doha resident from the UK who asked to remain nameless said she was looking forward to supporting her favourite team.
“It’s fantastic. We’re really big fans, so that’s a big thing to happen here. We love Mo Salah,” she told Al Jazeera.
“Hopefully, [Liverpool] will win the Premiership and the European Cup [again] and take it all home.”
The final will be played on Saturday at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Follow Saba Aziz on Twitter: @saba_aziz