Saudi Arabian giants Al-Ittihad are in unchartered territory on Wednesday night as they take on English non-league side Atherton Collieries, who play in the seventh tier of the football pyramid in England.
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Al-Ittihad have been based in the town of Bolton where they have played friendlies against local side Bolton Wanderers as well as Leeds United and Bury. New West Bromwich Albion boss Slaven Bilic managed the club in the last 12 months.
The report also highlighted the gulf in social media following between the two clubs, with the Jeddah giants boasting 3.7 million Twitter followers compared to ACFC’s more modest 7,300.
Club official Carl McGuire told Arab News: “The interest in our club has been unprecedented, this is the first time I think the BBC have written about us in our more than 100-year history.
“Feedback from the local community and football family has been overwhelming.
“We are very honored that a club that is run by volunteers is to host such a prestigious club. We have made every effort to be as welcoming as possible.
“We don’t know what crowd to anticipate at all, Al-Ittihad supporters making the trip here will be able to see their heroes closer than ever. Our junior teams will be leading out the teams, a day they and their families will never forget.
“It is a day that will go down in our history,” he added.
“Something like this doesn’t come around often,” ACFC secretary Emil Anderson told BBC Sport.
“It’s like the unknown for us and it will probably be the unknown for them as well. It’s going to be a memorable night for the club.”
It has been a month of interesting friendlies in England, with Marlow Town hosting the Kuwait national team in a friendly and third-tier Accrington Stanley beating nine-time French champions and 1993 European champions Marseille.
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