Keen to avoid finishing sixth for the third time in five appearances, Ahly will be eyeing a consolation victory over Mexico's Monterrey in Wednesday's Club World Cup fifth-place playoff after suffering a disappointing defeat in the opener.
A depleted Ahly side missing key defenders Sherif Abdel-Fadil and Sayed Moawad slumped to a 2-0 loss to China's Guangzhou Evergrande to miss out on a dream semi-final against European champions Bayern Munich.
They also had to do without talismanic playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika, who is likely to end his career following the tournament, during the second half against Guangzhou after he limped off injured at halftime.
To make matters worse, defensive midfielder Hossam Ashour picked up an injury that will rule him out of the Monterrey game, leaving coach Mohamed Youssef with a selection headache.
"Our match against Monterrey is difficult because it comes right after the defeat by Guangzhou. I have been trying to lift the morale of the players during the past two days," Youssef, who steered Ahly to a record-breaking eight Champions League title last month, was quoted as saying by local media.
"It's not a meaningless match for us; it's very important. We want to win to improve our image in front of our fans and to break our poor run in the fifth-place playoff because we lost two out of two in that stage."
Ahly, whose best outcome was a third-place finish in 2006, finished sixth twice in 2005 and 2008.
They will face Monterrey for the second straight year, having lost to the Mexican side in last year's third-place playoff.
"Maybe a fifth-place finish would be better to our fans. We want to prove to the world that we are a strong team," Youssef added.
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