Preview: A 'frustrated' Ahly hope to return home with bronze from Club World Cup after Real loss

Ahram Online , Friday 10 Feb 2023

A frustrated Ahly coach and team will try to win a bronze medal in the FIFA Club World Cup on Saturday when they take on the Brazilian side Flamengo in Morocco - three days after a dream of reaching first ever final in the prestigious tournament was dashed by Real Madrid in the semis.

Al Ahly
Al Ahly s Ali Maaloul, left, celebrates after scoring his side s opening goal from a penalty kick during the FIFA Club World Cup semi final match between Al Ahly and Real Madrid at Prince Moulay Abdellah stadium in Rabat, Morocco, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. AP


It will not be an easy mission for the Red Devils when they face the COPA Libertadores champions Flamengo, who lost 3-2 to the Saudi side Al-Hilal in the other semi-final on Tuesday, in a match for third and fourth place on Saturday.

“I know very well that the Brazilian team have very talented players,” Ahly Swiss coach Marcel Koller stressed to Ahly’s official website on Friday.

Ahly started the tournament in style with an easy 3-0 win against Auckland City of New Zealand before defeating US side Seattle Sounders 1-0 in the quarters to set up a historic date with Real Madrid.

Despite their loss in the semis on Wednesday, Ahly produced a convincing performance against the European champions.

The Red Devils made it a 2-1 game in the 65th minute and came close to leveling the score on more than one occasion in full time.

However, unfortunately for the Red devils, Rodrygo and the youngstar Arribas killed the game with two injury time goals to end the game 4-1 for the Real.

“I am very frustrated because of the defeat to Real Madrid. We were looking forward to a better result during the game,” Koller reiterated to Ahly’s official website today after expressing a similar reaction in the post-game presser two days ago.

A bronze medal on Saturday would be the African champions third consecutive and fourth overall in eight appearances in the Club World Cup - an accomplishment by all means.

Happy with Third

"The team wants to play a good game against Flamengo and return home with the bronze medal,"  Ahly skipper Mohamed El Shennawy told the pre-game presser on Friday.

Meanwhile, Ahly's in-form winger Hussien El-Shahat posted on his Facebook page that Ahly "came into the tournament to win a title not the bronze medal but they were unlucky" in the game they lost to Real Madrid.

"We were close but we missed several chances that could have helped us win," added El-Shahat.

Ready for the Brazilians

Back at the presser today, Koller said "Flamengo are a big and strong team and they have skillful players as is known of the Brazilians."

"I watched two games for them plus their match against Al Hilal in the second round," he added.

"It will be a difficult match but we are ready for them," Koller stressed. 

Ahly's veteran midfielder Amr El-Sulaya will miss the game after sustaining a muscular injury during the Real Madrid clash.

Egyptian players need to focus!

Koller also reflected during the presser - again - on the team's loss to the Real in the semis, which was his first loss in 22 games with the Red Devils since taking over the helm in September of last year.

"We were facing the best team in the world in Real Madrid. Of course, their odds and capabilities were stringer than ours. Still, we created a lot of chances."

"The difference between Real Madrid and Ahly is the same difference between European leagues and the Egyptian leagues: their ratio of converting chances into goals is higher than us," the 62-year-old Swiss coach said.

"The Egyptian player needs to maintain his focus as long as possible - make the right decision at the right time - and not miss in front of the goal," he added.

Ahly win over Flamaengo gives them their third straight bronze medal and the fourth in eight appearances in the prestigious tournament.

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