Preview: Ahly aim to end FIFA Club World Cup semis’ jinx

Ahram Online , Sunday 17 Dec 2023

Egyptian champions Ahly will be looking to reach the FIFA Club World Cup final for the first time in the club’s history when they face Copa Libertadores champions Fluminense of Brazil in the competition’s semis in Jeddah on Monday.

Ahly, ittihad
Ahly's Winger Mohamed abdel Moneim Kahraba during the match between Ahly vs ittihad Gada. Photo: Ahly official X Account

 

Ahly secured their spot in the semis with a commanding 3-1 victory over hosts Ittihad Jeddah in the quarterfinals, marking their sixth appearance in the World competition semifinals.

In their five previous semi-final appearances, Ahly fell short of progressing further.

They settled for the bronze medal three times (2006, 2020, and 2021) and finished in fourth place twice (2012 and 2022).

Ahly coach Marcel Koller, who led the team to a fourth-place finish in the 2022 edition, aims to make history by guiding the team to their first-ever Club World Cup final.

"When Ahly won the bronze medal, I was not the team's coach," Koller told the pre-match news conference.

"We are well prepared for the game, and I believe we can deliver a strong performance against Fluminense to continue our journey in the competition."

On paper, the match poses a challenge for the African champions, but following their impressive display against Ittihad Jeddah, the Red Devils have every reason to dream.

Fluminense boasts several talented players, including midfielder Andre, Colombian winger Jhon Arias, and veteran striker German Kano.

The team also features experienced duo, former Real Madrid fullback Marcelo and former Inter Milan midfielder Felipe Melo.

"Fluminense is a good team with many experienced players, but we are ready for the game," Ahly winger Taher Mohamed told reporters on Monday.

"However, the match will be 11 players against 11, and the team that exerts more effort will emerge victorious.

"We will approach the game with the same determination we showed against Ittihad Jeddah, and I believe the expected massive presence of our fans will be decisive."

Ahly will enter the game with their full squad, with the only absence being French striker Anthony Modeste, who is suspended for two games after receiving a direct red card against Ittihad Jeddah.

All the team's stars, including Hussein El-Shahat, Emam Ashour (who scored against Ittihad Jeddah), and Mahmoud 'Kaharaba' Abdel-Moneam (who delivered an impressive performance in the same match), are ready for the game.

"All players are prepared for the game, and they will give their best to achieve our goal and progress in the competition," concluded Koller.

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