Al Ahly set sights on bronze medal after losing out on Club World Cup final place

A 2-0 defeat to Brazilian side Fluminense means Al Ahly will contest third-place play-off instead of championship game

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Al Ahly forward Taher Mohamed has urged his teammates to use their “very painful” semi-final defeat to take home bronze at the Fifa Club World Cup on Friday.

The African champions, chasing a first final appearance in their history, were beaten 2-0 by Fluminense in a gripping last-four encounter in Jeddah on Monday night.

Participating in the Club World Cup for a ninth time, Ahly spurned numerous chances in the match at King Abdullah Sports City and were eventually outdone by Jhon Arias’ 71st-minute penalty and John Kennedy’s strike one minute from time.

In losing, Ahly missed out on the final for a fourth successive year. The Egyptian club now face in Friday’s play-off the winners of Tuesday’s other semi-final between Manchester City and Urawa Red Diamonds.

Speaking immediately after the Fluminense defeat, Mohamed told The National: “It’s very painful but this is football; you give everything on the pitch – that’s what we did today – but we just didn’t score in the first half.

“We had really good chances; we could have scored one or two goals at least. If we scored in the first half, the game would have completely changed.”

Ahly set up the semi-final with the recent Copa Libertadores winners by defeating hosts Al Ittihad last Friday. As South American champions, Fluminense entered the competition at the semi-final stage.

Mohamed, a second-half substitute for Ahly on Monday night, believed that ultimately proved the difference between the two sides.

“They didn’t play any games in the tournament – this is their first game – and we played a big game against Al Ittihad,” he said. “So that’s what happened at the end of the game: we lost concentration, we were so tired in the end. But that’s part of the game.

“But we’re still here in the tournament; we have one more game left. Last year, we couldn’t take third place. This year we wanted to play the final, but we don’t have the chance to. But we still have another game to play.”

Indeed, in the 2022 tournament earlier this year, Ahly were beaten to third place by another Brazilian club, Flamengo.

Mohamed started the play-off in Morocco, as Ahly let slip the lead to eventually lose 4-2.

The Cairo club, who took bronze in 2006, 2020 and 2021, are therefore keen to make amends for that February defeat come the end of this week.

“From tomorrow, maybe in the locker room now, we have to talk to each other, remind each other that we have still one more game left,” Mohamed said. “And remind each other also that last year the same scenario happened, but we couldn’t play well in the third-placed game.

“We don’t want to leave here empty handed. We want to go home with a medal.”

Updated: December 19, 2023, 3:55 AM