Al Ahly manager Pitso Mosimane talked big ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup. The highly rated South African masterminded Monterrey’s defeat in the quarter-final, and looked primed to take his team far in the competition.
In a rematch of last year's third-place playoff, Al Ahly were brought down to earth by Palmeiras in the semis on Tuesday, despite fighting till the end. In truth, Al Ahly did not do much wrong, and matched their opponents squarely.
However, they were eventually undone by their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal. Goals from Raphael Veiga and Dudu either side of the interval separated the two teams as Palmeiras won 2-0 against the reigning African champions.
Al Ahly fall to Palmeiras
Al Ahly were very solid and convincing against Monterrey in the previous round, but they lacked the same composure on Tuesday. They were unnecessarily impatient in their play, lacking composure in the final third. Their poor decision-making eventually cost them against Palmeiras.
The Brazilian side played on the back foot for large parts, but more importantly, they took their chances. The goals from Veiga and Dudu were well-taken, whereas Taher Mohamed and Mohamed Magdy Morsy were wasteful at the other end.
Al Ahly shot themselves in the foot by enjoying possession of the ball more than actually penetrating their opponents, and they were punished for that.
Africa’s wait for a club world champion continues
As things stand, TP Mazembe is the only team from Africa that has ever reached the final of the Club World Cup, losing to Inter Milan in 2010. Al Ahly’s latest elimination against Palmeiras means the continent will have to wait a bit longer for their first World Club Cup winner.
"We hoped to be in a better position than last year, this year, but we are in the same position, the semi-finals, as we were last year, coincidentally (losing) with the same scoreline. That means we have to improve, we haven't improved in that sense," Mosimane quipped, as quoted by Kickoff.com.
"We didn't start very well. I think we could have started a bit more forward with the team, but we gave them a little bit more respect. We could have started better than the way we started and, in fact, we were a little bit more forward when we were 10 against 11 than we were at the beginning.
The Al Ahly manager added:
"I'm disappointed because we let ourselves down with the red card. and that was the time when we had the momentum. hoping that we could get a goal, and we looked like scoring.”
It’s disappointing that Al Ahly couldn’t reach the final, but there are some positives to take from their campaign. Hopefully, they can come back stronger next year.
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