Ahly set up Real Madrid showdown in Club World Cup

Ahram Online , Saturday 4 Feb 2023

Egyptian giants Ahly beat Seattle Sounders of the US 1-0 on Saturday, setting up a Real Madrid showdown at the Club World Cup semi-finals.


Mohamed “Afsha” Magdi came off the bench in the 62nd minute to score the winner in the 88th minute, leading the Reds to their fifth semi-final.

Ahly will play European champions Real Madrid on Wednesday and are dreaming big in their eighth appearance, as they have already claimed three bronze medals in the 2006, 2020, and 2021 editions.

The only time Ahly played European champions was in 2020 when they lost to Bayern Munich 2-0.

A dull affair

Coach Marcel Koller shuffled his lineup as he changed his front three to field Mahmoud Kahraba, Percy Tau and Taher Mohamed Taher instead of Mohamed Sherif, Ahmed Abdel-Kader and Hussein El-Shehat.

However, the new combination failed to pose any threat to the debutant Americans.

Both sides struggled to hold onto the ball and chances were very limited in a dull first half.

However, the Seattle Sounders seemed slightly better in terms of domination and pressing, but could not capitalise on this as Ahly’s defence were on topd.

Their best chance came in the 34th minute when Albert Rusnak unleashed a powerful shot that went inches next to the post.

Despite a few attempts from Tau, the Reds could not pose any threat to their rivals’ keeper.

Afsha the hero

Just as they did in their first game against Auckland City, Ahly upped their game after the break and pushed their rivals back into their own half.

As the team’s performance improved, Koller introduced Abdel-Kader, Sherif and Afsha at the hour mark to bring in the cutting edge.

The Egyptians extended their total domination of the game, and it was not a matter of how, but when Ahly was going to grab his goal.

Tau, Abdel-Kader and Afsha had several attempts on the goal, but the one that counted came in the 88th minute when Afsha fired from just outside the box, only to be denied by the crossbar. However, he was able to collect the rebound and his second attempt deflected off defender Alex Roldan and bounded past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

After losing in the semis over the past two editions, Ahly hope the third time will be the charm.

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