Al Ahly to face Real Madrid in Club World Cup semi-finals after late win over Sounders
Egyptian giants Al Ahly will face Real Madrid in the Club World Cup semi-finals after a late 1-0 win over MLS side Seattle Sounders at the Ibn Batouta Stadium in Tangiers on Saturday.
Afsha came off the bench to score the decisive goal in the 88th minute, the midfielder’s volley deflecting to wrong-foot Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, which took Ahly to Wednesday’s last-four fixture against European champions Real Madrid in Rabat.
Afsha hit a speculative effort from distance that looped over Frei and dipped onto the crossbar, bouncing right back into his path and allowing him a volley that Alex Roldan steered past his own goalkeeper as he stuck his foot out to block the shot.
Competing in the tournament for an eighth time, Ahly are on course to least match their past two appearances which resulted in bronze medals.
“We achieved the victory after a great effort from the entire team, less than 48 hours after the Auckland game, and the fatigue that accompanied it,” Afsha said.
“I am happy with the goal, but I am happier with the qualification for the semi-finals. I only care about Al Ahly’s interest.
“Winning the man of the match award of course makes me happy,” he added. “I also won the award in the 2020 and 2021 Champions League finals, but the important thing is that these games ended with Al Ahly winning.
“Real Madrid is the best team in the world. It is my childhood team, but we will give everything we have and we will play to win.”
It was a heart-breaking finish for Seattle, the first Major League Soccer team to compete at the Club World Cup, and still in their pre-season before their league campaign kicks off later this month.
“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 were playing their 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.
Asian champions Al Hilal won earlier on Saturday against home team Wydad Casablanca on penalties after extra-time ended 1-1. The Saudi side will take on Copa Libertadores holders Flamengo of Brazil.