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Mosimane’s Al Ahly beat Palmerias on penalties to clinch third place in Qatar

11 February 2021 - 19:36 By Marc Strydom
Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane reacts during the match at the Education City Stadium.
Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane reacts during the match at the Education City Stadium.
Image: REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous

Pitso Mosimane’s detractors in Egypt can only have been silenced for now as his Al Ahly matched their best finish at the Fifa Club World Cup with a 3-2 penalties win against Brazil’s Palmeiras in the third-place playoff on Thursday night.

Ahly had edged play in a 0-0 normal time at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar. As the playoff went straight to penalties, two superb saves from legendary Ahly and Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy earned the Red Devils victory.

Al Ahly had toughed out a 2-0 defeat against Hansi Flick’s hugely impressive European champions Bayern Munich in Monday night’s semifinal that certainly was no disgrace to the African champions, given the standard of the opposition.

In the third-place playoff, the Cairo giants were aiming to match their best position of third at the Club World Cup, which they attained beating Mexico’s Club America 2-1 in the 2006 playoff in Japan.

For Mosimane, third place from two victories at the Club World Cup is a more-than- healthy return having arrived at the end of the Covid-19-delayed Egyptian season to wrap up a treble for Ahly in 2019-20.

Ahly were making their sixth Club World Cup appearance in Qatar. South American champions Palmeiras had lost 1-0 against Mexico’s Tigres in their semifinal. Tigres were to meet Bayern in the final later on Thursday night.

Mosimane became the first South African coach to win a match at the Club World Cup when Ahly beat Qatari host club Al-Duhail in the second round last Thursday to reach the semis.

Previously the coach, who left Mamelodi Sundowns in a bombshell move to Ahly in October, had coached Downs at the 2016 event in Japan. Sundowns lost both matches against host team and eventual finalists Kashima Antlers, 2-0 in the quarterfinals; and 4-1 against South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai in the fifth-place playoff.

The defeat against Bayern was Mosimane’s first in 23 matches at Ahly, who reached the Club World Cup beating bitter Cairo rivals Zamalek 2-1 in the 2019-20 Caf Champions League final at Cairo International Stadium in December.

On Thursday evening Ahly edged play and chances in the first half, with Palmeiras finishing stronger just before the break.

In the 26th DR Congolese striker Walter Bwalya won the ball on the edge of the area and teed up midfielder Amr Al Sulaya to skip round the challenge of Felipe Melo and shoot across the face.

Left midfielder Mohamed Magdi Kafsha ran on to the pass in from left-back Ayman Ahsraf and shot into the side-netting.

Palmeiras’s best chance came five minutes before the break, left-back Matias Vina’s cross finding winger Rony deflect a header inches past the upright.

In the second half Bwalya had the ball in the net but Senegalese referee Maguette Ndiaye ruled offside. Both teams’ legs tired as play meandered after that.

In the shoot-out, for Ahly, Badr Banoun scored, Al Sulaya’s shot was saved by Weverton, Marwan Mohsen hit the upright, and then Mohamed Hany and Oluwafemi Ajayi scored.

For Palmeiras, Rony’s first kick was stopped by El Shenawy, Luiz Adriano missed the second, and then Gustavo Scarpa and Gustavo Gomez scored. Then El Shenawy brilliantly dived to his right to stop the powerful shot of Melo.