Preview: Egypt's Ahly eyeing third-place redemption in Club World Cup

Ahram Online , Thursday 11 Feb 2021

Ahly will be looking to replicate their 2006 third-place finish when they meet Brazil's Palmeiras in Qatar's Al-Rayyan on Thursday

Ahly v Bayern
occer Football - Club World Cup - Semi Final - Ahly v Bayern Munich - Al Rayyan Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - February 8, 2021 Ahly fans as players line up before the match (Reuters)

Egypt's Ahly can still get something out of their first Club World Cup appearance in seven years as they take on South American champions Palmeiras in a tough game for the tournament's bronze medal on Thursday.

The Red Devils kicked off their campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over Qatar's Al Duhail in the quarters but fell 2-0 against European champions Bayern Munich in the semis.

While the loss against the mighty Bavarians was the likely scenario, some of Ahly's demanding supporters were left with a bitter taste after the team failed to mount a single threat on Manuel Neuer.

But there is still room for redemption, with Ahly seeking to replicate their best ever Club World Cup result when they finished third in 2006.

"We are not happy for losing against Bayern because we had a chance to do something. We don't have the same chances as Bayern, but we believe in our ability to win this time," Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane told a news conference ahead of the Palmeiras clash.

"We respect our fans' point of view and their supportive role in the stands in the last two matches here, but finally you can't select your starting line-up on social media."

When Ahly claimed the bronze medal almost 15 years ago in Japan, they defeated CONCACAF champions Club America of Mexico 2-1. This time around, they will face a stiffer test against Brazilian giants Palmeiras, who are wounded following a surprise 1-0 loss to Mexico's Tigres in the semi-final.

Ahly were dealt a blow ahead of the game after key duo Mahmoud Kahraba and Hussein El-Shahat were suspended by FIFA for violating the tournament's strict precautionary measures.

Television footage captured the attacking midfielders approaching the vibrant Ahly supporters and shaking hands with some following the end of their semi-final clash against Bayern Munich on Monday, including the team's former iconic playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika.

Ahly will also have to do without influential left-back Ali Maaloul, who injured his hamstring against Bayern.

"We have faith in all our players, and we have to deal with the fact that Mahmoud Kahraba and El Shahat won't be able to play. However, I understand that their actions were not intentional," Mosimane said.

"We have to prepare the players who will be replacing them in the game.

"It's normal to be upset after our defeat against FC Bayern Munich; however Ahly players are confident that we will achieve the bronze medal."

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Short link: