European champions big in Japan

Liverpool FC are getting ready to fly the flag for UEFA at the FIFA Club World Championship in Japan, with Steven Gerrard pledging "to bring the trophy home".

World élite
The English side's UEFA Champions League success in 2004/05 means they won the right to represent Europe at the six-team competition open to continental champions from across the globe. Liverpool play at home against Middlesbrough FC on Saturday before flying out to face either Sydney FC of Australia or Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa next Thursday.

Gerrard determined
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said: "Our job as players is to deliver results and we will be going to Japan with the intention of bringing the trophy home. We have a great fan base in Japan and I'm sure they're looking forward to seeing us play. It's also an opportunity for us to get a winners' medal and this competition gives us a unique opportunity to become world champions."

Brazilian might
Liverpool will be entering in the semi-final stage along with Copa Libertadores holders São Paulo FC of Brazil, although the action gets under way on Sunday with a meeting of Saudia Arabia's Al Ittihad and Al Ahly of Egypt. The winners of that contest will take on São Paulo – featuring Real Madrid CF-bound full-back Cicinho - next Wednesday.

Familiar faces
The victors from that tie and Liverpool's match will progress to the final to be played in Yokohama on 18 December. Aside from the European champions, there will be plenty of familiar faces for European football fans, not least with Sydney being coached by former Germany star Pierre Littbarski and Al Ittihad guided by ex-Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu.

2005 FIFA Club World Championship
11-18 December
Qualifying zone Participating club
AFC Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)
CAF Al Ahly (Egypt)
CONCACAF Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica)
CONMEBOL São Paolo FC (Brazil)
OFC Sydney FC (Australia)
UEFA Liverpool FC (England)