Ahly are eyeing a third-place consolation at the FIFA Club World Cup after narrowly missing out on a place in the competition’s final.
The Cairo giants take on Mexico’s Monterrey on Sunday after fighting bravely in a 1-0 semi-final defeat by Brazil’s Corinthians, who face European champions Chelsea in the final later in the day.
Ahly finished third in the 2006 edition for their best outcome in three appearances.
“Our aim now is an obvious one, to finish in third-place, the best position that we can attain,” Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry, who was hailed by local media despite the team’s failure to overcome Corinthians, said on FIFA.com.
“We have really enjoyed our time here in Japan and the people have welcomed us warmly, and now we want to repay their hospitality with a good performance.”
Corinthians had to survive a second-half onslaught against Ahly to avoid an upset, with the Egyptian champions failing to make their dominance count after missing a couple of gilt-edged opportunities after the break.
Chelsea enjoyed an easy ride against Monterrey following a 3-1 victory that leaves the Mexican as desperate as Ahly to avoid leaving the tournament empty handed.
“We have only thing left: to win the bronze medal. It would be an achievement to finish third because of the problems we are going through,” Ahly striker Emad Meteb, who came on as a second-half substitute against Corinthians but made little impact, told the pre-match news conference.
“Monterrey’s defeat against Chelsea was natural; we should not be deceived by that. Monterrey are a very good team.”
Mohamed Abou-Treika, who scored the winning goal in the opening victory over Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the quarter-final and put in a superb second-half display against Corinthians, is likely to make his first start as he seeks to become the Club World Cup all-time top scorer.
The veteran playmaker is level on four goals with Argentinean wizard Lionel Messi and Brazilian forward Denilson.
Ahly will miss skipper Hossam Ghaly, who picked up a serious knee injury against Hiroshima, and regular goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy after he hurt his hamstring in the defeat by Corinthians.
Defensive midfielder Hossam Ashour is doubtful due to a pelvic injury.
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