Ahly’s triple

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 15 Feb 2022

The Cairo giants claimed the bronze medal in the FIFA Club World Cup for the third time, reports Inas Mazhar

Ahly s forward Mohamed Sherif (r) vies for the ball with Al-Hilal s goalkeeper Mohamed Alowais during their CWC third-place match at Al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi photos: AFP

Although Egyptians fans had high hopes that Ahly would make it to the final of the FIFA Club World Cup (CWC) for the first time, they were satisfied with the team’s final result in the tournament: third place after mauling nine-man Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia 4-0.

Chelsea beat Palmeiras 2-1 in the final for the gold medal.

Both matches were played on Saturday in the United Arab Emirates.

Ahly thus won the bronze medal at the CWC for the second time in a row. They had taken the bronze medal in the 2006 edition with then head coach Portuguese Manuel Jose before winning it twice in a row in 2020 and 2021 with South African head coach Pitso Mosimane.

It was an impressive performance from the African representative Ahly on Saturday. Yasser Ibrahim opened the scoring for Ahly eight minutes into the game before adding another in the 17th minute. Ahmed Abdel-Kader netted the third in the 40th minute to give his team a 3-0 lead at half time. In the second half, Amr Al-Souliya added the fourth in the 64th minute. Ibrahim’s brace got him the Alibaba Cloud Match Award.

Al Hilal’s Matheus Pereira of Brazil was shown a straight red card, as was Mohammed Kanoo, before the half was over, both for aggressive tackling.

“It means a lot to us,” Mosimane told FIFA’s official website after the match. “We know we didn’t improve in terms of the colour of the medal, but we are happy and our fans are happy. We got here against all odds considering the absences we had. We showed Ahly spirit. The bronze medal this year means a lot more to me than the one last year.” 

Ahly were initially missing at least half the team who were playing for Egypt at the recently-concluded Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon. Ahly’s management, fans and the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) had all thought Egypt would make an early exit from the AFCON, allowing Ahly’s players to join them earlier in the CWC. However, the Pharaohs reached the AFCON final before losing to Senegal. By the time the Ahly players arrived in the UAE, they were pretty much spent.

Still, Ahly beat Monterrey of Mexico 1-0 in their first game over the weekend. That took Ahly to the semi-finals on Tuesday where the Egyptians faced Brazil’s Palmeiras, the champions of South America whom they had beaten last year for the bronze medal. 

Palmeiras won 2-0 to reach the final. Goals by Raphael Vega in the 39th minute and Dudu in the 49th sealed the win for the Brazilians.

Ahly tried to stage a comeback but a red card to defender Ayman Ashraf deflated whatever ambitions Ahly had left.

Ahly was attempting to reach the final of the championship for the first time in what is their seventh appearance in the Club World Cup which features the winners of the continental cups in FIFA’s six confederations and the league champions from the United Arab Emirates.

Following the conclusion of the CWC, FIFA’s official website said Chelsea ensured that European outfits had now won nine consecutive FIFA Club World Cups. In the final, Kai Havertz scored a penalty deep into extra time for the win. Romelu Lukaku’s superb header gave the European champions the lead on 54 minutes but Vega levelled from the spot for the Copa Libertadores winners just past the hour in Abu Dhabi.

FIFA also said Ahly had tied the record for the biggest victory in a third-place play-off (four) as Argentine’s River Plate also won 4-0 against Japan’s Kashima Antlers in 2018.

Ahly are Egypt’s top football club according to their huge collection of trophies which includes 42 Egyptian Premier League titles, 36 Egyptian FA Cups, 10 Egyptian Super Cups, eight CAF Champions League titles, six CAF Super Cups, four CAF Cup Winners’ Cups and one Confederation Cup.

With 24 international titles, Ahly are the second most successful club team in history, after Real Madrid with 26.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 February, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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