The FIFA Club World Cup is not everyone’s cup of tea. But we will be eager to see how Al Ahly will perform at the World stage after their dominant domestic and contintal form last season. The Cairo giants open their campaign against, hosts, Al Duhail.
Al Duhail Probable XI: Moussa – Ismail, Benatia, Hisham, Afif – Junior, Karimi, Ceara, Dudu – Ali, Olunga (4-4-2).
Al Ahly Probable XI: El Shenawy – Hany, Banoun, Ashraf, Maaloul – Sulaya, Dieng – El Shahat, Afsha, Taher – Bwalya (4-2-3-1).
The match is on Thursday, 4th February 2021, at the Education City Stadium. Kickoff time is 7.30pm CAT.
What is at Stake?
The winner of this FIFA Club World Cup second round match will earn the rare chance to play Bayern Munich in a competitive match. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the prospect of facing Bayern has overshadowed the narratives of this match.
Al Duhail are second in the Qatar Stars League but on closer scrutiny we found that they are not really in great form. They have only kept three clean sheets in their last 10 matches. Duhail is also some distance away from top spot in their league and they have a feel of a team that is in the process of rebuilding the squad.
Their profile is in contrast to Al Ahly. The CAF Champions League 2019/2020 winners have adopted the methods of Pitso Mosimane and made recruitments to shore up their weaknesses. Ahly has begun the Egyptian Premier League season in typical good form, although they find themselved second. The Egyptians also cruised to another CAFCL Group Stage appearance.
What will the Match be Like?
Sabri Lamouchi has set up Al Duhail to play in a 4-4-2 system with adventurous wingers. The fact that they are playing host will encourage the Qatari team to be proactive in style against Al Ahly. The Egyptians have not been used to teams attacking them over the last season. It will be interesting to see how they cope with that kind of situation.
Pitso Mosimane has been insistent on implementing Kasi Flava in Cairo. This has not always gone well as there have been loud criticism of his creative methods. But his team is getting results. The concern for Pitso will be whether Al Ahly are now good enough to play their style at a FIFA Club World Cup tempo – Rene Weiler, Ahly’s former coach, did say that the club can compete in the Bundesliga.
All eyes will be on the new strikers acquired by either side. Al Duhail signed J League 2020 top scorer, Michael Olunga, and the Kenyan has settled quickly to life in Qatar. He scored a hatrick in his last match. Maybe Badr Banoun can match him in the air but his movement will be a challenge to Ahly’s defence. The other striker, Walter Bwalya of Al Ahly is not even guaranteed to start. But we believe he will play because Pitso made a big fuss about needing a striker for the FIFA Club World Cup.
Al Duhail 2-1 Al Ahly
The contestants will play proactively as they will be confident of being able to outplay their opponents. We expect plenty of good chances to be created in this encounter meaning that being clinical in front of goal will be the biggest influence on who proceeds to play Bayern Munich.