(MENAFN - Arab Times) Officials and players of the Barcelona Club of Spain, who are currently on a visit to Kuwait at the behest of Kazma Sports Club on the occasion of its 45th anniversary, expressed their delight at the kind of tumultuous welcome Kuwaitis accorded them at the airport and subsequent warm hospitality they have been enjoying since arrival in the country.
At a press conference shortly after their arrival in Kuwait on Sunday preparatory to the friendly match against Kazma Sports Club of Kuwait Monday, chairman of the club Juan Laporta expressed delight over his team's visit to Kuwait for the first time. He said the Kuwaiti fans are wonderful and friendly, especially with the kind of reception they received at the airport. He thanked the Kuwaiti fans and organizers of the event for their interest in the club.
He added the winning goal Messi scored to earn them the World Cup final victory was significant to the club, especially since it coincided with its 110th anniversary. "My greatest appreciation goes to Chairperson of Kazma Football Club As'ad Al-Binwan and the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Spain Adel Al-Ayyar for deeming it fit to invite us to Kuwait and share the joy of winning the World Cup with us," he added.
Meanwhile, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola disclosed this period is one of the best times for the team. He cited winning of six laurels within a season as commendable accomplishment for the club. He said the achievement is just the beginning of several others to come. "Our strength lies in team work because the players, the coaching team and the management are one single family and we all cooperate with each other," he stated.
French-born prolific scorer Thierry Henry indicated that he knows little about Kuwaiti soccer but he is happy to visit a peaceful and lovely place like the country. He was amazed by the heroic reception they received at the airport and hoped for a memorable stay in the country.
Another Barca scorer Ibrahimovich affirmed the club is capable of achieving more glories before the end of the season, since it is not difficult for them to score goals. He wished to win the world player of the year award to cap his soccer attainments.
Al-Binwan, on the other hand, congratulated Barcelona for winning the just-concluded World Cup. He wished the delegation a memorable and wonderful stay in Kuwait. He revealed Al-Ayyar played a vital role in realizing the objective of inviting the Spanish frontline club and World Cup title holders to Kuwait.
Meanwhile, Barcelona's Argentine superstar Lionel Messi is the hot favourite to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award, which will be announced by world football's governing body in Zurich on Monday.
The dazzling winger has already been honoured with the prestigious Ballon d'Or, the European Player of the Year trophy, and he picked up his sixth prize of an unforgettable year with Barcelona after scoring the winning goal in their 2-1 win over Estudiantes in the final of the World Club Cup on Saturday.
"We've just ended a historic year, a perfect year in which we've won every competition we've played in," said the 22-year-old, who vanquished his Argentine compatriots Estudiantes with an innovative chested finish in extra-time of their Abu Dhabi showdown.
"We just needed to take this last step and everything has worked out how we wanted. It's amazing. It's difficult to put into words."
Barcelona's incredible 2009, in which they additionally won the league, the Spanish Cup, the Champions League, the European Super Cup and the Spanish Super Cup, has also led to nominations for midfield pair Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
"If you're talking about all the trophies, then there's no other side that has achieved what we have this year," Messi added in an interview with the FIFA website.
"We are happy at having made history but make no mistake, we'll be out to win everything again next year."
Real Madrid pair Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo, the reigning award-holder and world's most expensive player, complete the five-man list of nominees but Messi is widely expected to pip them both, having already beaten Ronaldo to the Ballon d'Or earlier in the month.
The only black mark on Messi's year was the struggle endured by Argentina in World Cup qualifying, but they eventually squeezed through and next summer's South African showpiece will give him the opportunity to join the pantheon of the truly great alongside his national boss Diego Maradona.
Aside from the men's prize, FIFA will select the Women's World Player of the Year from a shortlist featuring Germans Birgit Prinz and Inka Grings, England's Kelly Smith and Brazilian pair Cristiane and favourite Marta.
FIFA will also unveil its inaugural Team of the Year, while the Ferenc Puskas prize — named in honour of the 1950s Hungarian great — will be presented to the scorer of the year's best goal.