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Egypt's Al Ahly seek Real scalp at Club World Cup

BBC News 06/02/2023
Afsha's goal against Seattle Sounders handed Al Ahly as semi-final for the third consecutive edition and fifth time overall © Getty Images Afsha's goal against Seattle Sounders handed Al Ahly as semi-final for the third consecutive edition and fifth time overall

Al Ahly midfielder Mohamed Afsha says the Egyptian side will "definitely give everything" as they prepare to face European champions Real Madrid in the Club World Cup semi-finals in Morocco on Wednesday.

Afsha's 88th minute deflected shot handed the Red Devils a late winner as they edged Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Saturday to set up a tricky tie against the four-time winners.

Competing at an eighth tournament, Al Ahly cruised past New Zealanders Auckland City 3-0 in the only first round tie but are still chasing a first win against European opposition at this level.

"Real Madrid is the best team in the world and it is my childhood team, but we will give everything we have by playing to win," said Afsha.

Africa's most decorated team, and one of the world's most successful, Al Ahly are last-four regulars at this tournament.

The ten-time African champions finished third in 2006, 2020 and 2021 and the Egyptian giants are in the semi-finals for the third consecutive edition, and the fifth time overall.

After losing out to Bayern Munich in 2020 and Palmeiras in 2021, Ahly are determined to beat Real Madrid to book a spot in the final for the first time, according to forward Mahmoud Kahraba.

"It will be a difficult match against Real Madrid because we are facing the strongest team in the world, but nothing is impossible," admitted Kahraba.

"Anything is possible and we trust in ourselves. All of our players are experienced men full of determination."

"A dream match"

DR Congo's TP Mazembe and Raja Casablanca of Morocco have delivered Africa's best performances at the tournament, finishing runners-up in 2010 and 2013 respectively.

A starter for Al Ahly in both games in Morocco so far, the Mali midfielder Aliou Dieng is unperturbed by the task ahead against the 14-time European champions.

"It's a dream match. If you had told us 'you'll play against Real Madrid', we would've have said 'no you are crazy', but now it's a reality, we are going to play Real Madrid," Dieng told Fifa TV.

"We are going to enjoy the top level and there's no pressure. We'll play the game the way we have to play it. I have to say it's a dream come true."

Saudi Arabian champion Al Hilal and Flamengo of Brazil will battle in the first semi-finals on Tuesday in Tangier.

It comes after African champions and hosts Wydad Casablanca suffered a 5-3 penalty shootout heartbreak following a 1-1 draw against Al-Hilal in Rabat on Saturday.

Wydad led through defender Ayoub El Amloud's header from a deflected corner in the 52nd minute but Mohamed Kanno equalised with a penalty in the 93rd minute after Yahya Jabrane handled the ball and was sent off.

Musab Al Juwayr converted the winning penalty after Morocco World Cup full back Yahya Attiat-Allah had missed the first kick for the hosts.

The elimination of the African champions is a major blow to the Moroccan organisers, hoping for more international success soon after their national team reached the World Cup semi-final in Qatar in December.

Back in August 2001, Nigerian forward Sunday Ibeji scored the lone goal as African Club of the Century, Al Ahly, defeated Uefa Club of the Century, Real Madrid, 1-0 in a friendly in Cairo.

Real paraded their 'Galaticos' like Zinedine Zidane, Figo, Roberto Carlos, Claude Makelele, Raul and Salgado in Cairo.

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