Egyptian footballing legend Mohammed Aboutrika has claimed that his side Al-Ahly are ‘here to entertain’ in relation the FIFA Club World Cup and after an exciting encounter with Japanese outfit Sanfrecce Hiroshima he and his comrades are certainly living up to that promise.
Hossam El-Badry’s side ran out 2-1 winners against the J.League champions and will now go into the quarter finals against Brazilian giants Corinthians. In what was a captivating game Al-Ahly took the lead after 15 minutes when striker Al-Sayed Hamdy broke the deadlock. The lead was not too last however when Japan’s MVP and top scorer from last season Hisako Sato took on a shot with his weaker right foot that found its way past Sherif Ekramy to level the scoring.
Both teams continued to play their own brand of football and created chances in the process. Sanfrecce knocked the ball around in their typical technical fashion while the Egyptian side played fast and fluid on the counter-attack. Any advantage the Japanese side may have had from the sleety-snow conditions that their Egyptian opponents would have been so foreign to did not have the desired effect; as it was Aboutrika, one-time African footballer of the Year, who burst through shrugging off the challenge of Kazuhiko Chiba before finishing past substitute keeper Takuya Masuda to grab what would transpire to be the winner.
Sanfrecce created many more chances with the usually reliable Sato looking shy in front of goal and in the end Al-Ahly did enough to earn their place in the semi-finals.
They will be looking to become the second African side to make the Club World Cup final after DR Congo heavyweights TP Mazembe in 2010.
Al-Ahly is a club still reeling from the Port Said stadium massacre in February and Aboutrika admitted that recent events in his homeland are playing a part in their carefree attitude to football:
"The most important thing is to win the game; we are here to entertain the people. Playing in this game is a big thing because of what's happening in Egypt, because there's no league in Egypt. What happened in Port Said and the martyrs, we're more enthusiastic to win. We're just playing for entertainment."
You can view the highlights here; Al-Ahly take on Corinthians on Wednesday…
image: © nolandstooforeign