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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 18:47 GMT
Keane hoping to face world

Manchester United The Manchester United team train at the Maracana Stadium

Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane believes he will be fit for the team's opening match in the World Club Championship in Rio.

World Club Championship
The Republic of Ireland international suffered a knock in training for the tournament which the United skipper rates as the most prestigious event he has taken part in.

Keane expects to be named in the side to face Mexican club Necaxa at the famous Maracana Stadium, Rio.

"I'm pretty confident to be fair," said Keane.

"I got the knock two days ago and have had treatment every day since so I'm pretty confident I will be OK."

People in England laughed at the European Cup 44 years ago and now it's the biggest thing there is
Gary Neville
The Old Trafford star is certain that his team are playing in the biggest competion in the world.

"I think this competition has been criticised, especially back in England, but the players are looking forward to it because we're playing against the best teams from different parts of the world," said Keane.

"We know it's going to be hard, but we're more than capable of winning it and we hope we can do it."

United had to pull out of the FA Cup to compete in Brazil, and many have questioned the validity of a competition in which some of the teams do not even currently hold the titles which qualified them.

Beckham David Beckham poses for the cameras on a Rio beach
Since their arrival, United have been the centre of attention in Brazil, with David Beckham under attack from the Brazilian media for his attitude.

The star midfielder's hopes of a quiet tournament have not been helped by his Spice Girl wide Victoria admitting that he occasionally borrows his underwear.

Old Trafford chairman Martin Edwards has expressed his own doubts about the competition.

But United's players are keen to get on with business and away from the fanatical Brazilian public and media.

Full-back Gary Neville is adamant that the Old Trafford side can help make the World Club Championships a regular event, rather than a one-off trial.

Keane: Confident about fitness and the competition
Neville is keen to point out that the English public mocked United's former manager Sir Matt Busby, when he entered his side in the European Cup in the 1950s.

The tournament was new at the time but has since become the most prestigious club prize in the world.

"We are pioneers again because we are going into it for the first time and it would be fantastic if we could put our name on the trophy," said Neville.

"People in England laughed at the European Cup 44 years ago and now it's the biggest thing there is.

"Who is to say, in another 10 to 15 years, that this is not going to become the biggest competition you could play in?"

On trial

The tournament is being heralded as the first major football event of the new millennium, but is currently on trial.

The aim is to find the outright club champion of the world, from a group of eight teams from every participating continent.

It began on Wednesday with a 3-1 win for former European champions Real Madrid over Al-Nassr, the Asian representatives from Saudi Arabia.

That was followed by Corinthians of Brazil starting their tournament in their own Sao Paolo stadium, against Morocco's African champions Raja Casablanca.

Meanwhile the final two teams to start the competition, Australia's South Melbourne and Vasco de Gama play in Rio directly after United's match on Thursday.

Like the Manchester club, Vasco are heavily favoured to win their first game, and set up a Group B decider with United on Saturday.

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