By Malik Jones in Morocco
Al Ahly’s late deflected strike sinks the Seattle Sounders and sends them packing their bags, while the Egyptian dream continues and they will now face the UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid in the next round under Swiss coach Marcel Koller. Al Ahly are one of the world’s most decorated clubs, having won 42 Egyptian Premier League titles, 37 Egypt Cups, 12 Egyptian Super Cups and a record ten CAF Champions League titles. Known as The Red Devils and the Club of the Century, and this edition of the CWC is their third consecutive time at the tournament.
The game bordered on descent into chaos but both teams just about managed to hold things together, and it took a late deflection to separate the two teams. Overall, Seattle Sounders should be disappointed, they failed to take their chances in the first half and it came back to bite them in the end.
As for Al Ahly, the story is exactly the opposite to that of the MLS side. They held on well and when the chance arose, Mohamed Afsha was there to do the finishing.
Al Ahly were certainly growing into this tie, managing to find striker Percy Tau in dangerous areas of the pitch most of the time. In the 54 minute, a slippery run from Percy Tau almost saw him get on the end of a nice pass from El Solia. It was however well defended by The Rave Green, who have just started to drop off slightly. However, the Washington State boys failed to keep up the momentum and physicality that they showed in the first half.
The second half saw chances at a minimum for both sides, which says as much about the defensive qualities as it does about the lack of attacking threat when it comes to the final ball. In the end, it was clear to see that the players’ legs got tired and they could not continue the onslaught we saw in the first half.
Despite Seattle being the much the better side in terms of chances created, but nothing was ever clear for them and in that sense, Al Ahly have defended well. The Egyptian side looked to press early and grab a quick goal but soon found themselves in a low block playing counter attacking football, which they have struggled to do given the defence showing of the MLS team.
The Sounders will be happy with the performance but will have surely wanted to get ahead on the scoresheet sooner rather than later because the longer they went without scoring the stronger the nervousness was as they failed to get more out of Lodeiro and Ruidiaz, who have been well managed by the Egyptian defence. Manager Brian Schmetzer who grew up in Seattle and played for the Seattle Sounders in the NASL in the 80s will view the margin of defeat as minimal but it ended their adventures in the Club World Cup.
Home boys Wydad eliminated
Earlier Asian champions Al Hilal scored a late equaliser to take their Club World Cup clash against Wydad Casablanca into extra time as the match finished 1-1 before escalating in a penalty shootout on Saturday. The Saudi Arabian side won the shootout 5-3 to secure a semifinal berth against Flamengo of Brazil. Musab Al Juwayr converted the winning penalty after Morocco World Cup full back Yahya Attiat-Allah had missed the first kick for the African champions.
Morocco’s Wydad, roared on by a partisan capacity crowd, had taken the lead early in the second half through Ayoub El Amloud but gave away a penalty four minutes into stoppage time at the end of the 90 minutes to allow Mohamed Kanno to equalise. Wydad’s captain Yahya Jabrane was sent off for a second bookable offence at the same time, although Kanno was red carded four minutes into extra time as both clubs were reduced to 10 men.
The elimination of the African champions came as a major blow to the Moroccan organisers, hoping for more international success soon after their national team reached the World Cup semi-final in Qatar in December.