Arabnews24.ca:Sunday 5 February 2023 05:54 AM: TANGIER, Morocco — Egypt’s Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi congratulated Al-Ahly’s president Mahmoud el-Khatib, footballers and coaching staff for reaching the semi-finals of the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.
Sobhi praised the Cairo giants’ distinguished performance that brought joy to the Egyptian fans, wishing them success in the next clash against Real Madrid.
Al-Ahly will now face Real Madrid in the tournament’s semi-finals after the Egyptian side snatched a late victory over the American Seattle Sounders.
Al-Ahly-Real Madrid clash will be next Wednesday in Rabat, a day after other semi-final encounter between South American champions Flamengo and Asian champions Al-Hilal.
Having won the UEFA Champions League last season, Real Madrid earned a spot in the semi-finals of the competition directly, along with Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo.
Los Blancos is the favourites for the tournament, and have won the FIFA Club World Cup a record four times with successes in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“It’s a great thing to face a big team like Real Madrid in the semi-finals,” Al-Ahly’s Swiss coach Marcel Koller said after the game according to the club’s official website.
Koller underlined that there are many theoretical and technical preparations for this confrontation.
Mohamed Magdi ‘Afsha’ scored on a deflected shot in the 88th minute against the MLS club.
Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal defeated Morocco’s Wydad on penalties in the other quarter-final clash after a 1-1 draw.
Afsha scored after coming on as a substitute in the 63rd. He lifted Ahly into the semi-finals for the third straight year, and brought an abrupt end to the first appearance by a team from the United States in the competition.
His initial shot from outside the penalty area hit the crossbar. Seattle was unable to clear the danger and Afsha´s second attempt deflected off defender Alex Roldan and bounded past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Al-Ahly has not lost a match in any competition since August 27 in the Egyptian Premier League.
Al-Ahly has finished third in each of the past two Club World Cups but has never made the final.
Seattle was the first club from Major League Soccer to take part in the Club World Cup after winning the CONCACAF Champions League last May. The Sounders carried hopes of advancing through their first match and playing at least three matches at the event.
But while Seattle was excellent defensively, they lacked quality chances on attack. Seattle finished with just one shot on goal, a speculative attempt from defensive midfielder Josh Atencio early in the second-half.
“I thought we were good. I thought we were evenly matched. A couple of chances. But the deflection on the goal, it’s unfortunate,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said.
Seattle was playing its first competitive match in three and a half months while the rest of MLS was going through preseason preparations. The Sounders’ previous match was last October and the team gathered for MLS preseason camp in early January.
“They put everything into the game. They put everything into preseason,” Schmetzer said.
Al-Hilal stuns Wydad to set up Flamengo clash
Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia edged Morocco’s Wydad in a tense shootout to book a semi-final clash against Flamengo of Brazil next Tuesday.
A stoppage-time Mohamed Kanno goal took the game to extra-time and, after parity remained intact through it, the Asian titans won a shootout 5-3.
After an entertaining but chance-shy first-half, El-Amloud headed the ball home off the underside of the crossbar to give Wydad the lead at the start of the second.
It looked to be enough, but in the dying minutes Yahya Attiat-Allah was penalised for handball and the referee pointed to the spot.
Yahya Jabrane was then sent off for his protests before Mohamed Kanno calmly sent Ahmed Tagnaouti the wrong way to send the game to extra-time.
It produced another red card – Kanno was sent off soon into it for a second yellow – and two big chances. First,
Al-Hilal idol Moussa Marega spun his marker cannily and fired over when one on one with Tagnaouti, before Wydad substitute Bouly Junior Sambou headed wide from close range.
It was on to penalties and Yahya Attiat-Allah, a hero for Morocco at Qatar 2022, saw his attempt agonisingly come back off both posts.
Al-Hilal impressively scored all five of theirs to advance.