Egyptian legend Mahmoud El-Khatib “Bebo" (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Ahly fans should be proud of their team despite their defeat in the FIFA Club World Cup semifinal, vice-chairman and club icon Mahmoud El-Khatib said on Friday.
The Red Devils beat Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 in the quarter-final but could not build on their opening win after slumping to a 1-0 defeat by Copa Libertadores winners Corinthians of Brazil.
However, they can take consolation from a brave display against the Brazilian outfit, who had to survive an Ahly onslaught in the second half to set up a clash against European Champions Chelsea in the final.
Ahly will face Mexico's Monterrey in the third-place playoff on Sunday.
"The fans and the board of directors should be proud of the team. Qualifying for the World Cup was an achievement in itself, given the hard circumstances we are enduring, including domestic football stoppage," El-Khatib, one of Egypt's greatest-ever footballers, said on Ahly's official website.
Ahly made their fourth Club World Cup appearance after defying the odds to win the African Champions League last month following a 3-2 aggregate defeat over title holders Esperance of Tunisia.
They clinched a record-extending seventh Champions League title despite lack of domestic action as the Egyptian Premier League has been suspended since February's Port Said disaster.
"Ahly players earned the world's respect, regardless of the results," El-Khatib added.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)