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Baxter, Boxall Back Downs At CWC Whoever They Face

Kashima Antlers face Auckland City this afternoon in a battle for a spot in the quarter-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup, where Mamelodi Sundowns lie in wait. 

The Japanese J1 winners host the OFC Champions League winners in Yokohama at 12h30 (SA time), with the winner going through to the next round, where Sundowns will be waiting as they prepare to take part in South Africa's first ever CWC game.

While City – who finished third in 2014 – are taking part in the competition for the eighth time, Antlers are making their CWC debut at the International Stadium Yokohama.

In the build-up to today's game, which will see Masandawana find out who their opponents will be, SuperSport United's Stuart Baxter and Michael Boxall – who have their own cup final this weekend – have had their say on Sundowns' possible opponents. 

Baxter spent time coaching in Japan with both Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Vissel Kobe, while Boxall was born in Auckland and played for City during the early stages of his career.

Baxter told media: "Antlers, they have fanatical support and Brazilian roots. Zico was involved there for a long time and still has some sort of honourary presidential role. When I was there, they had Bismarck, Leonardo, Mazinho. They had World Cup winners there. So those Brazilian roots mean they're a team that want to play, which would be good for Sundowns. 

"They play quick, because the Japanese players they've got are decently mobile, but if you're asking me – and I'm not a betting man – I'd put a little bet on Sundowns. I think they're organised enough and I don't think they'll be upset if it's a bit of Brazilian-style game. They'll enjoy that more than if it's a very structured game, where they’re hitting balls behind the back four and trying to penetrate.

"It's a game that could be a bit South African, and if they do play Antlers, I think Sundowns have got a really good chance."

Meanwhile, Boxall said that he’ll be rooting for his former club, but thinks Sundowns will be too much for them if they do end up meeting.

"I'll easily be rooting for Auckland City, but obviously Sundowns, over the last 16 months or so, have been the best team in South Africa. The best team in Africa. They have such quality players all over the park, and Auckland City are a semi-professional team," Boxall said.

"They're still very organised and I think they came third a couple of years ago and have surprised people in the past. Hopefully they can surprise Sundowns.

"I think Sundowns will be too strong for them, but I love an underdog and Auckland City always seem to rise to the occasion."

Sundowns' first game will take place 12h30 (SA time) on Sunday morning.

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