Al Ahly took a step closer to a Fifa Club World Cup showdown with Real Madrid after the Egyptian side cruised to a 3-0 victory over Auckland City in Morocco on Wednesday.
Hussein El Shahat, Mohamed Sherif and Percy Tau scored the goals for Ahly, who progress to face American club Seattle Sounders in the next round. The winner of that match will advance to face European champions Real Madrid in the semi-finals.
Ahly, who have won the bronze medal in the previous two editions, dominated the contest at the Ibn Batouta Stadium in Tangier and now look forward to a far more testing outing against MLS opposition at the same venue on Saturday.
The Cairo club had to wait until first half injury-time for their opener against the Oceania champions, which came when El Shahat cut inside from the left wing and unleashed a low drive from 30 yards that beat goalkeeper Conor Tracey.
It was 2-0 on 56 minutes after Sherif beat the offside trap and slipped the ball past Tracey to end the game as a contest, with Auckland unable to muster much in terms of an attacking threat.
South Africa international Tau added a late third with a simple finish following a brilliant back-heel assist by Kahraba.
Home favourites and African champions Wydad Casablanca tackle Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal in their second round tie on Saturday. The victor in that fixture will meet Brazilian outfit Flamengo in the semi-finals.
While Ahly hold plenty of experience in the competition, Seattle are making their Club World Cup debut, and the American club's goalkeeper, Stefan Frei, said they are fully focused on the Egyptians despite the tantalising prospect of facing Real Madrid.
"We definitely don't look past Al Ahly. They are a very experienced team in this tournament but if we do find ourselves moving forward, it would be incredible," Frei said.
"For an MLS team to have the opportunity to play against arguably the best team in the world for something meaningful is a privilege, it's an honour.
"We sense that and we want to win against Al Ahly so that we can showcase our skill against such a huge opponent."