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MU eyeing Club WC

Sir Alex Ferguson is desperate for Manchester United to be the first British team to get their hands on the Club World Cup, one of the few trophies he has yet to win.

United were due in Tokyo on Monday after a long flight from London, hoping that the gruelling mid-season trip will not damage their Premier League campaign.

Having already put back August's match against Fulham because of their participation in the UEFA Super Cup, the trip here leaves them with two games to make up on their chief rivals.

After a scoreless draw against Tottenham on Saturday, at least United will be buoyed by Chelsea's failure to take advantage in their 1-1 stalemate with West Ham on Sunday.

Even if United return home facing a daunting points deficit in the league, the Scot believes the Club World Cup is worth the trouble.

Having won the Champions League in 1999, United qualified for the inaugural tournament of continental champions in Brazil in early 2000 after controversially pulling out of the FA Cup in order to feature.

But they failed to get past the group stage after being beaten 3-1 by Brazilian side Vasco De Gama and drawing with Mexico's Rayos del Necaxa.

"This is a very difficult tournament, different from what we were used to last time, but hopefully we can handle it," he said before United's departure.

"It's a good opportunity for us to get the team together in a serious competition because no British team has ever won it and it's a big challenge to us."

He said winning the trophy would be important for the club and for the club's record.

"We feel we should have won more in Europe but having won the Intercontinental Cup back in 1999, we were the first British club to do it, and that's a prestigious piece of history for us," he said.

United defeated Brazilian side Palmeiras in Tokyo in December 1999 to win the traditional showdown between European and South American champions.

"To win this one would be even better for us," Ferguson said.

As a seeded side, United go straight into the semifinals of the seven-team competition on Thursday, where they face Japan's Gamba Osaka, who beat Adelaide United 1-0 on Sunday in a replay of their AFC Champions League final.

United's main threat to their title push is expected to come from South American champions Liga de Quito of Ecuador, who play Mexican powerhouse Pachuca in their semifinal on Wednesday.