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Egypt's 'Red Devils' aim high in Club World Cup

Egypt's club soccer team Al-Ahly's midfielder Wael Gomma, speaks as defender Shady Mohamed listens during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan yesterday...

Egypt's club soccer team Al-Ahly's midfielder Wael Gomma, speaks as defender Shady Mohamed listens during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan yesterday...

African champions Al-Ahly of Egypt have set their sights on finishing third in the FIFA Club World Cup that kicks off tomorrow in Japan.
The Cairo 'Red Devils' face Pachuca of Mexico on Saturday in the quarter-finals with the winners qualifying for a showdown against South American champions LDU of Ecuador four days later.
European 'kings' Manchester United are favored to make the final from the other half of the draw that includes Adelaide United of Australia, Gamba Osaka of Japan and Waitakere United of New Zealand.
"For an African club to finish third in this competition resembles winning the title," Portugal-born Ahly coach Manuel Jose said before heading for Tokyo at the weekend.
"We will do our best to represent Africa and Egypt well, but our supporters must be aware there is a big gap between football in South America and Europe and football in Africa.
"Winning the Club World Cup is an impossible task for now. We need more time to achieve that goal," said the coach who guided Ahly to four of a record six African Champions League titles.
His latest African conquest came last month in the remote Cameroonian town of Garoua where Ahly held Cotonsport 2-2 to clinch a third title in four years after building a 2-0 first-leg advantage at home.
Jose warned the multi-million support base of Ahly spanning Egypt, North Africa and the Middle East that unrealistic expectations could hinder his star-studded squad.
"When Ahly went to Japan for the first time three years ago, fans wanted us to win the title and we finished last. A year later we approached the tournament more realistically and came third.
"We have a lot of excellent players. Sometimes it is Mohamed Aboutraika or Mohamed Barakat who stands out, but in general we perform as one strong unit," the Portuguese said.
Long-serving defender Ahmed al-Sayed is more optimistic, believing his 'Red Devils' can master the 'Red Devils' of Europe and bring the club title to Africa for the first time.
"Ahly are capable of returning home with the gold medals. We are a very strong team who can always compete for international honors," he told an Egyptian TV channel.


Updated : 2021-10-16 09:41 GMT+08:00