The 2023 FIFA Club World Cup gets underway in Saudi Arabia this month with Egypt’s Ahly, a near perennial presence in the world competition, hoping they can do better than their best thus far: third place.
With eight previous appearances, Ahly’s most notable achievement has been securing the bronze medal in 2006, 2020 and 2021.
In their last participation, the club dropped a bit, finishing in fourth place after a 4-2 defeat to Brazilian side Flamengo in February.
If Ahly want to climb a rung higher in the tournament, it means reaching the final. But that is no small feat. Whereas Real Madrid are not defending their title because they were eliminated in the semi-finals of last season’s Champions League, their place is now taken by their eventual conquerors Manchester City, often referred to these days as the best team in the world.
Ahly have a bye, so will play the winner of the opening game between Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia and New Zealand’s Auckland City scheduled for Tuesday 12 December. The winner face Ahly on 15 December.
This will be the 20th edition of the Club World Cup which pits the winners of the six continental confederations, as well as the host nation’s league champions.
The tournament will be played in Jeddah from 12 to 22 December. It will be the last seven-team Club World Cup before the tournament is expanded to 32 teams in 2025.
The seven teams taking part in the FIFA Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia:
Manchester City (England)
Club León (Mexico)
Urawa Reds (Japan)
Fluminense FC (Brazil)
Auckland City FC (New Zealand)
Ahly FC (Egypt)
Al-Ittihad FC (Saudi Arabia)
* A version of this article appears in print in the 7 December, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly