Friday, December 19, 2008

Al Ahly Finish Sixth in Club World Cup


Oh, that was disappointing ...

Egypt's Al Ahly finished sixth at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan on Thursday after suffering a 1-0 defeat against Adelaide United of Australia.

Brazilian Cristiano scored a 25-yard screamer in the 7th minute to ensure that the African champions finish last at this year's tournament.

After stripping an Ahly defender of the ball, Cristiano rifled a right-footed blast from the top of the area past goalkeeper Amir Abdelhamid.

Mohamed Barakat had the best scoring chance for the Egyptians in the 83rd minute when he fired from 25 yards out only to have Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic make a brilliant diving save.

The six-time African champions were ragged and couldn't keep possession, but they woke up after influential Adelaide star Diego was forced off after 24 minutes with a knee injury.

His departure sparked the Egyptians into life and they had a series of chances to draw level, with Angola's Flavio getting another fine opportunity as the Egyptians pressed hard for the equalizer.

Ahly kicked off the second period with a new determination and dominated the opening 20 minutes but, as in the first half, their finishing was suspect and they failed to convert numerous chances.

Adelaide grimly hung on with goalkeeper and captain Galekovic rescuing them with a fine reflex save from Barakat as the clock ticked down.

The Egyptians came to Japan full of lofty ambitions, hoping to do at least as well as they had done at this tournament in 2006, when they finished third. Two years on, and the dream has turned into a nightmare.

"In Egypt, people think that Al Ahly are the best team in the world. We need to show some humility," said Ahly coach Manuel Jose after his team's second defeat. "Expectations are far too high, we need to be more realistic."

"Throughout the match, we didn't have enough scoring opportunities," said Jose.

"We were nervous and couldn't keep up with Adelaide."

"My players gave their all," added coach Jose. "They (Adelaide) played pretty well too, so the result was a little unfair. We could probably have played a little better, but the pressure was too great and my players just couldn't handle it."

Ahly star Gomaa felt his team owed the club's supporters an improved display should they qualify for the event once more: "It's a real disappointment for our fans, so I hope for their sake that we'll be back and that we'll do better next time."

Adelaide lost 1-0 to Japan's Gamba Osaka in the quarter-finals while Al Alhy lost 4-2 to Mexico's Pachuca.

European champion Manchester United defeated Gamba Osaka 5-3 in a semi-final later on Thursday.

The Red Devils advanced to face Ecuador's Liga de Quito in Sunday's final.

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